Cities using 'lateral pay' strategy to recruit police officers

Published: Feb. 14, 2020 at 12:15 PM CST
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Across the country, cities like Omaha are using a "lateral pay" strategy to draw officers from anywhere in the nation.

"All across the country law enforcement is pulling form the same pool of people across the country," said Anthony Connor, president of the Omaha Police Officers Association. "This lateral will bring us up to par with other large agencies are size."

The union leader said that since the Ferguson, Mo., uprising in 2014, recruitment numbers have dropped across the nation. Omaha Police saw a sharp drop in applications the following year.

"We went from 1,800 applicants to a little less than a thousand," he said. "We lost half of that... That is part of the goal: to increase those numbers."

Both agencies have comparable salaries, so that leaves neighboring cities competing for more experienced officers.

Bellevue Police is also running short.

"We are short 11 officers right now," BPD Lt. Andy Jashinski said. "We should have 100, and we have 89."

BPD hires twice a year. The city is thinking of adding a lateral class this summer, which would get officers on the streets faster.

"If we get someone who is brand new, it takes us 9-10 months to get them training," Jashinski said. "That's a long time when we need bodies now."

Bellevue is staying on top of its normal recruit numbers. Friday, they will open enrollment once more.

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