BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
Palo Alto police are 12 officers short of the 92 they’re budgeted for, so the department is offering up to $25,000 bonuses for new hires, police said yesterday.
It’s the first time the department has offered hiring bonuses in almost a decade, Lt. James Reifschneider told the Post. The department has had between eight and 12 vacancies for most of the last year.
The city funds allocated for those 12 positions will in part be used to pay a $10,000 bonus to officer applicants who have graduated from the police academy and a $25,000 bonus to cops who have worked at other agencies. The money set aside for new officers is also being used to pay overtime for existing cops.
The department will pay more for experienced officers because, Reifschneider said, recruits are provided health benefits and paid a cadet’s salary while in training for 10 months before hitting the streets.
How much do officers earn?
Salaries in the department range from $100,942 to $119,953. Officers receive up to $2,088 a month for medical insurance, retiree medical benefits and fully paid dental and vision plans.
It’s not uncommon for the department to lose a recruit during the six-month police academy or four-month internal training program, Reifschneider said. Reifschneider said the department’s
standards were “at least as high as anyone else in the region” and that the department would not lower its standards out of its need to hire.
Recruits don’t have to meet a height or weight requirement but they must score high on physical agility tests along with reading and writing exams.
The “lion’s share” of officers have a bachelor’s degree, military service, or both, Reifschneider said. The department has several sworn employees with master’s degrees and two with law degrees, including Reifschneider, he said.
Tattoos and misdemeanor convictions do not disqualify recruits. Officers can even admit to drug use, as long as
it’s not within the last three years.