As cities across America continue the effort to defund police departments, law enforcement officers are quitting in droves. However, what one Virginia city council did has police supporters cheering.
As the anti-police atmosphere grows, the political agenda to dismantle law enforcement gains traction. Now, on top of the serious physical risk and psychological burden of policing, officers are faced with oppressive budget cuts and restrictive policies that not only limit their ability to police but also place countless lives in further danger.
Norfolk is one city impacted by the disastrous effects of this movement, having seen a massive shortage in officers and a decrease in applications. However, the city council is hoping to remedy this problem by taking several steps that supporters of the Thin Blue Line are applauding.
After suffering a shortage of nearly 20 percent of its police officers, the Norfolk City Council voted to increase the starting salary of incoming officers. In the $4.7-million budget, the council approved an 8.5-percent pay increase, promising recruits a starting salary of $50,800 per year, WTKR reports.
“I think that they sent the clear message to the officers that their work is appreciated, that they understand what we’ve been going through and that they’re willing to fix it,” said Brian Luciano, the president of the Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association.
However, the council knows this isn’t enough. In an effort to retain current sworn officers and ease the burden of their job, the council is pushing forward a proposal to give them each a bonus. WAVY reports that corporals and sergeants will receive $12,000 each, lieutenants and captains will receive $8,000 each, and recruits in the police academy will receive $5,000 each upon graduation if the new budget is passed. The officers will receive the bonuses in exchange for a 5-year commitment to the department.
It’s all part of a proposed police officer retention bonus program, aimed at addressing “the growing number of vacancies in sworn positions due to an increasing rate of resignations and a decrease in applications for recruitment classes within the Police Department,” according to City Council’s upcoming agenda.
The police department currently has 600 sworn officers, which is 140 officers short of what they need to run the department properly. Both the council and police department hope that the financial incentives will fill the vacancies as well as convince officers to stay on the job.
“I think it makes us more competitive in our area, where officers who may be considering leaving to go to other localities in our neighboring cities would choose to stay,” said Luciano.
Of course, not everyone is happy with the proposed plan. Norfolk Police Union IBPO Local 412 President Matt Watson expressed his disdain for the council’s offering on Facebook.
“I in fact will not accept this bonus, it is a slap in the face if it does not come with a change in our pay, steps and most important the culture of the Department,” Watson said in his post. “I will not sell myself for $200 a month.”
Still, Norfolk Police Sgt. Will Pickering says the increase is a step in the right direction. He explained that, in comparison with what’s happening to departments in other cities, Norfolk is providing a better option to police officers.
“I strongly encourage people to look at law enforcement as a potential employment opportunity,” said Pickering. “We are going in the right direction. We are getting better every day, but it takes the right people to do this job.”
The department isn’t hoping to merely attract the average citizen to a position in law enforcement with a financial incentive but to convince those who already had a desire to serve their community to go ahead with applying.
Although the proposal isn’t anywhere near what many of these men and women deserve, it’s progress. Especially in the wake of such an aggressive anti-law enforcement movement, the bonuses and starting pay increase come as a refreshing surprise.
If citizens don’t start showing their appreciation and support to the police officers who serve their communities, they’re going to lose them. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the criminals and political elite want.