EVERETT — The Everett Police Department now is able to offer some officers more of a reason to choose Everett.
On Wednesday, the City Council unanimously approved an incentive program that will allow the police to offer new lateral hires from other police agencies an additional $15,000 bonus.
The intent is to help fill the department’s ongoing shortage of officers. There are currently 18 vacancies, Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman said.
The department has been hiring new officers aggressively. In the next few weeks, Templeman said, another officer is expected to be sworn in.
“That’ll be number 51 since I came police chief,” Templeman said.
Templeman became chief three years ago, and in that time, the department also has lost 48 officers to retirement mostly, but also to resignation and termination, he said.
“Those 48 officers have taken with them 942 years of experience,” he said.
Two more officers with more than 60 years of experience combined are expected to retire in June, Templeman said.
The department is prioritizing lateral hires because it costs less in time and money to get them ready for patrol.
New entry-level officers make $68,052 in base pay their first year and typically take a year or more to complete all the stages of training.
Lateral hires start with a salary of $89,184 per year, the same as a third-year officer, but the required training time can be reduced by half or more.
“Where you’re saving is in the amount of time you’re paying a new officer to not patrol the streets,” Templeman said.
By contrast, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Deputies start at $59,542 for new hires and $72,449 for lateral hires. Starting base pay for a Washington State Patrol trooper is $57,000 per year, and lawmakers just approved hikes to bring that to roughly $65,000.
Under Everett’s incentive program, new lateral hires would be paid $5,000 upon swearing in, $5,000 when the new officer is ready for solo patrols about four months in, and $5,000 at the end of the first year when the officer completes probation.
An officer who leaves the department within four years of hiring would have to pay back part of the incentive on a prorated schedule.
The money for the incentives is coming out of funds already budgeted for the unfilled positions, Templeman said.
Uncertainty remains about getting more officers on the street because the Legislature still has not agreed on a state budget. The city has lobbied Olympia to fund more candidate slots at the state police training academy.
“There’s a chance an officer hired today could sit at the Everett Police Department for 10 months before going off to academy for five more months,” Templeman told the City Council.
Mayor Ray Stephanson said that the new program might need to be adjusted when it comes up for review at the end of 2018 in order for Everett to remain competitive with other jurisdictions.
“What we’re doing here, other departments will be watching us,” Stephanson said.