Citing the intense competition for new police recruits and the high cost of training them, the Northborough, Ma., police department is requiring new officers, before they begin their training, to pledge to remain with the town for at least three years, reports the Boston Globe. Northborough is poised to hire five new officers. The department employs 18. “To me, this is a good business decision on our part,” said Police Chief Mark Leahy. “Let’s protect our investment.”
Officers must reimburse the town $2,500 for training fees if they leave the department before completing three years of duty. An official from a union that represents rank-and-file cops said the policy may be a way to save money, but it won’t necessarily help departments recruit much-needed officers. Rather, it’s likely to make the hiring process more cumbersome, said Rick Nelson of the Massachusetts Coalition of Police. “The police are hard-put to find people,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t make sense that they are raising some kind of barricade.” Similar policies are becoming increasingly common in suburban police departments around Massachusetts. Trained police recruits are in high demand. It’s not uncommon for police academy graduates to shop around for a job and for departments to poach recruits from each other. “There is a major problem around the state with police officers leaving their departments shortly after they’ve left the academy to go to another department,” said Jack Collins of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.