Los Angeles is trying to add 1,000 officers in five years to the smallest big-city police department in the nation, the Los Angeles Times reports. Police departments are engaged in an intense competition over an increasingly limited pool of suitable people interested in becoming cops. Los Angeles has increased its recruitment team from two to 12. It is offering a $1,000 cash reward to any employee who brings in a successful recruit.
Several factors are leaving police departments hard-pressed to fill their ranks. They include mass retirements by the baby boomer generation, a strong economy providing better-paying jobs in the private sector, and a military that is bulked up and extending the service commitments of soldiers who might otherwise become police officers, according to Jason Abend of the National Law Enforcement Recruiters Association. New York City is struggling to hire 3,300 officers this year. Chicago, which used to have a waiting list of applicants, now scrambles to keep recruits in the pipeline. California law enforcement agencies are facing a collective 8,500 vacancies. Five years ago, the 39 police academies in the state turned out 4,500 new officers annually; this year they are expected to graduate under 3,000.