Police departments find creative strategies to recruit and retain officers

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 11:23 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Williston Police Department became the most recent to offer monetary hiring and retention bonuses.

Chief Patrick Foley says they respond to roughly 12,000 calls annually. With openings to be filled at the department, some officers are working 14 to 16-hour days. Over time, they’ve tried hiring incentives such as additional training and tuition reimbursement.

“You get burnout, you get tired, you’re not as sharp,” Foley said. “Sickness comes in. You got to protect your own.”

Unfortunately, that hasn’t done enough. That’s why they’re planning to give officers a $10,000 bonus spread over the next three years. New recruits will also get bonuses of $5,000 or $10,000, depending on experience.

The Williston Select Board approved the funds Tuesday night. The bonuses will come out of American Rescue Plan Act funds and the town budget. “You folks do an incredible service, not only to attract hires but to keep what we have,” said the Selectboard’s Gordon St. Hilaire.

“I only see how it benefits our community to have a police force that’s been with the town and is knowledgeable with the town and committed to being here,” said the Selectboard’s Greta D’Agostino.

The Burlington Police Department also offers hiring and retention bonuses. Meanwhile, neighboring South Burlington only offers hiring bonuses.

Vermont State Police Capt. Teresa Randall says they’ve struggled with hiring, as well, citing a decline in applications over the past few years. VSP doesn’t have any hiring or retention bonuses as of now, but Randall says they are seriously considering it. “We are trying to think outside the box and be creative and come up with different ways to entice people into the profession because it really is a great profession,” Randall said.

Vermont State Police and the Williston Police Department are both actively hiring.

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