The Clovis City Council, in agreement with the Clovis Police Officers Association (CPOA), approved recruitment bonuses for lateral transfer candidates and recruited officers at the Monday, April 19, meeting.
Clovis Police Department (CPD) recruits and candidates could earn up to $10,000 in bonuses from April 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.
According to CPD Police Chief Curt Flemming, the department, like others across the nation, currently faces the challenge of recruiting and retaining officers. He feels that bonuses are an essential tool in enticing recruits and candidates to join the force.
“In 2007, we had a signing bonus at that time that we explored and found it beneficial,” Fleming said. “So, this [signing bonuses] was kind of one tool that we wanted to add to encourage people to apply at our agency.”
At first, councilmember Bob Whalen expressed his concerns on whether or not the CPD salaries were competitive. If they aren’t, he feels the council should address that issue instead of signing bonuses.
He also stated that he doesn’t want the department to end up in bidding wars for officers which could become costly for the organization.
“For me, it just seems like we’re entering into an arena that is going to be a bit of a bidding war,” Whalen said. “And I’m wondering why we would want to do that.”
Fleming stated that the department’s pay is competitive and that Clovis is 5% above the medium of other agencies in terms of contract negotiations.
However, Fleming said that the department is finding itself competitive in the recruitment process, and the bonuses will help in that effort.
Fleming also stated that the bonuses are even more essential for lateral transfer because officers with years of experience could be walking away from hundreds of hours of sick time, seniority and shift preference.
“We want the cream of the crop, but when you’ve invested so much time in an employer to walk away…You need some type of little bump to get you past that line,” Fleming said.
Requirements for lateral candidates are to meet a minimum of two or more years of sworn law enforcement experience and hired by the City of Clovis.
Upon hiring, they would receive $2,500 and a subsequent $2,500 for each benchmark achieved, including completion of a field training officer (FTO) program, probation and second full year of service.
For recruits, the same bonuses for benchmarks would apply, except for the requirement of two or more years of prior experience, and only receive compensation for completing the third full year of service, not the second year.
The approval of bonuses will also address Clovis Public Safety Employees Association’s (CPSEA) need for public safety dispatchers.
Public safety dispatchers laterally transferring to the department could receive up to $7,500 in bonuses.
Transfers would receive $2,000 upon hire, $2,500 to complete at least one year of probation and $3,000 to complete the second year of service.
According to Fleming, the CPD currently has 98 officers with funding for 100 and approved for 103 on staff.
He stated that the department would have to hire eight to 10 officers in the next year to get fully staffed, and that number could potentially grow to 10 to 15 necessary hires by July of next year.
“Right, now we’re honestly going in the wrong direction,” Fleming said. “The last two months, we’ve had three people choose to go to other agencies. I don’t know if that’s typically ever happened.”
Whalen also questioned whether bonuses could impact the department’s morale because bonuses will be provided to newly acquired employees and not to officers currently serving the department.
Fleming believes that officers on the force or newly hired officers who would miss the cut for the bonuses are more preoccupied with having more co-workers join the policing effort than incentives.
Whalen, who stated he could be a no-vote going into Fleming’s presentation, said he was impressed with the department’s strategy and that people hired with incentivized bonuses have moved through the ranks of CPD.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lynne Ashbeck agreed with the bonuses but feels that the council has to address the long-term funding for CPD and what that will look like in the next decade.
She stated that this is a problem that will need to be addressed for Clovis to continue to be one of the safest communities.
“We’re [the council] is going to have to stand up and address that shortly because we’re about… at the end of that runway,” Ashbeck said. “We just can’t keep doing a little bit more with a little bit less.”