Among the depleted ranks of police departments throughout the country, it has come to this: desperate want ads offering signing bonuses to new recruits, and cops paying other cops to find new cops. It seems nobody wants to be a police officer anymore, reports the New York Times. As a result, departments are taking a page from recruiters in sports and the corporate world. In Seattle, the sheriff’s office is trying a kind of bounty hunting: any deputy who can bring in someone who eventually becomes an officer will get a bonus of 40 hours of extra vacation time, worth up to $1,300.
But it is a competitive world out there among police recruiters. San Diego County, for instance, has already gone King County one better. “Put a star in your future – now offering a signing bonus of up to $5,000,” goes the Web advertisement for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. In a generation’s time, the job of an American police officer, previously among the most sought-after by people with little college background, has become one that in many communities now goes begging. Experts find that the life has little appeal among young people, and those who might be attracted to it are frequently lured instead by aggressive counteroffers from the military. The problem is compounded by better pay at entry-level jobs in the private sector, where employment opportunities have recently brightened.