Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Bookmark and Share
File #: 2019-7413   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 12/3/2019
Title: Adoption of Resolution Amending the Recruitment and Hiring Incentive Policy for Lateral Police Officers in the Alameda Police Department. (Human Resources 2510)
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Policy - Redlined, 2. Exhibit 2 - Policy - Clean, 3. Resolution, 4. Presentation

 Title

Adoption of Resolution Amending the Recruitment and Hiring Incentive Policy for Lateral Police Officers in the Alameda Police Department. (Human Resources 2510)

Body

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The Alameda Police Department and Human Resources have worked collaboratively since 2017 to significantly increase police officer recruitment activity, including offering hiring incentives approved by City Council in the Recruitment and Hiring Incentive Policy for Lateral Police Officers and accepting new applications on a continuous basis. Despite these efforts, the department still has nine sworn officer vacancies due to a persistent loss of sworn staff from retirements and lateral transfers.  In response to severe recruitment challenges, the Alameda Police Department would like to increase the incentive award for hiring police officer laterals by offering a hiring bonus worth up to $30,000 paid out over the course of two years. Nearby jurisdictions such as Fremont, San Mateo, and Palo Alto are offering similar incentives. The department would also like to reduce the 24-month probationary period for lateral candidates to 12 months, expand the employee referral incentive program to all City of Alameda (City) employees, and provide a $1,000 cash bonus option. The department expects the cost of each hiring bonus to be absorbed by its current budget. By hiring a lateral police officer, the Department would be relieved of the cost of a police academy sponsorship, which amounts to a savings of $44,000.  This savings would be offset by the cost of bonuses for each new lateral hire.

 

BACKGROUND

 

Since 2017, in response to severe recruitment challenges, the Alameda Police Department and Human Resources have worked collaboratively to significantly increase police officer recruitment activity. One of the actions taken was to establish the Recruitment and Hiring Incentive Policy for Lateral Police Officers. This incentive program, approved by the City Council, began in 2017. Since implementation of the incentive program, the City has hired seven lateral officers. Additionally, the Human Resources Department has maintained an open and continuous job announcement for police officer recruits, accepting applications on an ongoing basis and continuing to hold oral board interviews biweekly. The department has hired 16 police officer recruits since that time.

 

Despite these efforts since 2017, the Department still has nine sworn officer vacancies, and continues to lose sworn staff to retirements. 13 sworn officers will be retirement eligible by July 2020. In addition, of the 16 Recruits hired since 2017, to date only seven have successfully transitioned to full time officers. Police officer recruits must complete a 6-month academy followed by a 19-week field training officer (FTO) program prior to working independently as a probationary patrol officer. Many recruits do not successfully complete this rigorous training process. By comparison, lateral officers have already completed an academy and have experience working in patrol. Although they must complete the in-house FTO program, lateral officers enter it immediately after hire and can be independently assigned a patrol beat in half the amount of time as a recruit. While hiring and training recruits remains a priority, the recruitment of lateral police officers is the quickest way to solve the City’s sworn officer shortage.

 

Expeditiously filling sworn officer vacancies will have many beneficial impacts for the City and for departmental operations. Staffing shortages increase call response times and reduce the amount of time that officers can spend on discretionary tasks such as traffic enforcement or getting out of their patrol cars to make more personal contacts. With a fully staffed department, officers can be assigned to walking beats in the business districts and bicycle patrols. Walking and bicycle patrols increase personal interactions between officers and the community and has long term benefits in building relations with the public.

 

Persistent vacancies have also limited opportunities available for patrol officers to work in special assignments, such as detective positions, traffic, or other administrative assignments. For example, the Department has maintained vacancies in its Investigations Division in recent years to ensure an adequate number of officers are assigned to patrol. It is not uncommon for officers to become stagnant in patrol assignments by not being able to develop or expand their skill base. This can lead to a decrease in morale and, in some cases, tempt an officer to leave for another agency where they feel they can gain non-patrol experience and further develop their career.

 

Having more officers available will also significantly reduce the need for unplanned or forced overtime, which occurs when staffing levels drop below our minimum requirement for a given day of the week or time of day. Although the Department has done a good job of fiscally managing overtime, there is still an immeasurable effect on our employees due to the frequency and last minute nature of patrol coverage overtime.

 

DISCUSSION

 

The Alameda Police Department would like to amend the current Recruitment and Hiring Incentive Policy for Lateral Police Officers by increasing the amount of the recruitment incentive bonus paid to lateral candidates. Since the City has implemented their Lateral Incentive Program, many other nearby agencies, such as Fremont, San Mateo, and Palo Alto, have increased the amount of incentive offered to lateral candidates. Bonuses offered by other agencies range from $10,000 to $30,000 paid out over one to two years.

 

The proposed hiring bonus would be worth up to $30,000, paid out over the course of two years as follows:

                     Up to $10,000 after the completion of the 19 week field training program

                     Up to $10,000 after the completion of 1 year of service

                     Up to $10,000 after the completion of 2 years of service

 

The Department would also like to amend the recruitment incentive policy to allow for a 12-month reduction in the standard 24-month probationary period for qualified lateral candidates.

 

To be eligible for the recruitment incentive bonus, a lateral police officer must have a minimum of two years of experience as a police officer and will be asked to commit to three years of service with the Alameda Police Department.

 

The Department would also like to expand the current referral incentive for employees. Currently, sworn staff who refer a successful lateral candidate can earn two days of vacation (cashed out at year end) upon the lateral candidate’s completion of probation (usually two years). The proposed change would expand this incentive to all City employees and reduce the waiting time for an employee to receive the vacation referral incentive to just one year. The Department would like to provide an additional incentive option, allowing the employee to choose a one-time $1,000 non-PERSable cash payment in lieu of the two days of vacation.

 

Other existing recruitment incentives for lateral candidates already approved by the City Council would remain part of this policy, including:

 

                     Higher starting salary within the City’s existing pay scale;

                     Vacation accruals based on years of experience in their previous agency;

                     A lump sum of vacation time upon completion of one year of service;

                     Service credit towards retention pay; and

                     Front loading of accrued sick leave.

 

It is also recommended that the Recruitment and Hiring Incentive Policy for Lateral Police Officers be evaluated after 12 months to determine if it should be continued or suspended.

 

ALTERNATIVES

 

Alternatives include:

1.                     Authorize amendments to the Recruitment and Hiring Incentive Policy for Lateral Police Officers as described above, including a hiring incentive for new lateral officers and expanding employee referral incentives.

2.                     Direct staff to propose a smaller hiring incentive bonus and/or to scale back the referral incentive expansion.

3.                     Direct staff to seek other recruitment incentives of non-monetary value.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The Alameda Police Department expects to absorb the full cost of each recruitment incentive bonus and referral incentive bonus in their current budget. Hiring lateral transfers creates a cost savings for the department by eliminating the cost of sponsoring a police recruit through a police academy. The retention rate for lateral police officers is also significantly higher than police recruits, saving the department in turnover costs. Currently, the City pays approximately $44,000 to sponsor a recruit through an academy, which includes the cost of the academy ($4,000) and salary, benefits, uniform, and equipment costs while the recruit is in the academy ($40,000). Upon the completion of the academy, a police recruit will spend 19 weeks in field training, working side by side with another officer, before being allowed to work independently. Lateral officers only require the 19 weeks of field training after hire before being allowed to work independently; thus, saving the department the full cost of supporting an academy trainee.

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

 

There is no Alameda Municipal Code/policy document cross-reference.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

This action is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because it is not a project which has a potential for resulting in either a direct physical change in the environment, or a reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment, CEQA Guidelines, section 15378(b)(5).

 

CLIMATE IMPACT

 

Adopting a resolution revising the Recruitment and Hiring Incentive Policy for Lateral Police Officers has no impact on the climate.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Adopt a Resolution amending the Recruitment and Hiring Incentive Policy for Lateral Police Officers in the Alameda Police Department.

 

CITY MANAGER RECOMMENDATION

 

The City Manager recommends the recruitment and hiring incentive policy proposed on a 1 year trial basis.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Paul Rolleri, Chief of Police

Nancy Bronstein, Director of Human Resources

 

By,

Steve Woo, Human Resources Analyst II

 

Financial impact section reviewed,

Elena Adair, Finance Director

 

Exhibit:

1.                     Policy - Redlined

2.                     Policy - Clean

 

cc:                     Eric Levitt, City Manager