ALAMEDA, Calif. (KRON) – It is growing more difficult to recruit people into the field of law enforcement. Police departments find themselves competing for the same small pool of candidates. Now, one East Bay police department is offering one of the largest bonuses in the country.

The Alameda Police Department says its staffing is down nearly 30% from where it should be. That is why, by a unanimous vote, the Alameda City Council recently adopted a temporary recruitment and hiring incentive. 

“The bonus right now is $75 thousand dollars for anyone who wants to be a police officer. As far as we can find, this is the largest hiring incentive in the entire country,” said APD Chief Nishant Joshi.

The authorized staffing level of 88 officers for the department has not changed, but the number of cops in uniform has decreased from 73 to 64 in 2022. Staffing being at a critically low level impacts public safety, which is a big deal for the detectives who work in the Violent Crimes Unit.

“Things unfortunately haven’t dipped in terms of activity and crime. So, help is always welcome,” said APD Detective George Koutsoubes.

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Chief Joshi says he recognizes that police staffing shortages are a nationwide problem brought on by the misconduct of some officers

“And that causes people to pause,” he said. “People think twice about becoming a police officer. Here is what I’d say to those folks. ‘Now is the perfect time to be a police officer because you can reshape what public safety will and could look like.’”

All of those vacancies at APD provided the city with the money it needed to fund the $75,000 signing bonus.