PARADISE (CNN) — The work to clear out debris and clean up Paradise is ongoing and as the town rebuilds. so, too, does the police department.
“Before the fire, we had 21 sworn police officers,” said Paradise Police Chief Eric Reinbold.
Now, the department is down to just 13 sworn officers, including 11 who work patrol.
“Out of our paid staff, which included police officers, animal control and dispatch, we had 18 people lose their homes up here. So, some of them have moved out of state, and others have gone to different agencies for various reasons,” the chief said.
Chief Reinbold wants to add four patrol officers and to do that, he’s offering $20,000 sign on bonuses.
“That may be a trigger point to entice people to come here to work in Paradise and be a part of our new department after the fire,” he said.
Why experienced officers as opposed to new recruits?
For one, they can transition more quickly.
It’s also more cost effective.
“Currently, it costs the Paradise Police Department about $30,000 to hire somebody and put them through the academy and then we have to train them and that process is about 15 months before they’re filling a shift on their own,” he said.
Any new additions, the chief says, must have the right mindset.
“Having the understanding that you’re not going to be going call to call and buried in paperwork every day. It’s going to be proactive, community oriented,” Reinbold said. “We really want to address the needs of the community and do our best to prevent thefts and make sure that the people that are coming back and rebuilding don’t get victimized again.”
So far, Reinbold has drawn interest from three people, including two who’ve met with the department.
If they’re hired, they’ll get $10,000 up front and $10,000 more once they’ve completed their 12-month probation.