Council to consider signing bonuses to boost HPD recruiting

We've frequently commented on HPD's manpower shortage, which has been a problem for years.

The Chronicle reports that Mayor White and Council are finally attempting to boost recruiting via financial incentives:

In an effort to put at least 1,000 more officers on the streets, the Houston Police Department plans to offer signing bonuses of up to $12,000 to new cadets starting with the next academy class in March, officials said Thursday.

The decision to offer bonuses follows similar moves by other police departments and the military, all of which are competing for the same pool of applicants.

The city of Dallas, for example, has offered a $10,000 incentive to police cadets even advertising the deal on Houston billboards.

And with a starting salary of $41,690, Dallas is reeling in recruits from Houston, where the base pay is just $29,000.

"The field has never been as competitive as it is right now, and you've got to do something," said Capt. Dwayne W. Ready, who heads up HPD's human resources division.

The proposal, supported by Mayor Bill White, is expected to go before the City Council on Wednesday.

Officials with the Houston Police Officers' Union, however, have criticized the bonus plan, characterizing it as a Band-Aid solution to a more serious problem of HPD's uncompetitive pay scale and warned it could hurt morale.

The department employs about 4,800 officers, and Police Chief Harold Hurtt wants at least 6,100 to keep pace with the city's population growth, said Executive Assistant Chief Martha Montalvo, who oversees HPD's administrative operations.

Given the disparities in salary between Houston and Dallas (and similar signing bonuses in Dallas), city leaders may actually need to consider a boost in salaries along with the signing bonus.

Surely if the City of Houston can throw money at so many of the mayor's pet projects in a time of record revenues, it can actually fund essential city services (like policing) at the necessary levels.

RELATED COVERAGE: KTRK-13.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/18/08 10:13 PM | Print |

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