GREENBELT – It takes a village to raise a child, and in Greenbelt, it takes a village to build a police force as well. At the Oct. 10 city council meeting, the council voted unanimously to begin offering a $500 recruitment bonus to any city resident or city employee who successfully recruits a new officer […]
GREENBELT – It takes a village to raise a child, and in Greenbelt, it takes a village to build a police force as well.
At the Oct. 10 city council meeting, the council voted unanimously to begin offering a $500 recruitment bonus to any city resident or city employee who successfully recruits a new officer for the Greenbelt Police Department. The money would only be awarded if the recruit successfully completes all portions of the application as well as field and other training.
City Manager Michael McLaughlin said the city is facing intense competition from other police departments in the area, and the bonus could be helpful in attracting recruits.
“Maybe this gives us an advantage over somebody else. Maybe somebody knows somebody that’s applying – lives in Greenbelt and has a friend that’s applying in other departments and says, ‘have you thought about Greenbelt?’ They’d never discussed it before. You just never know,” McLaughlin said.
The bonuses would be covered within the police department’s current budget and do not require any additional allocation of city funds.
Originally, city staff suggested the bonus only be available to city employees, but Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan wanted to expand it to all residents because he said it could help increase diversity on the force.
“One of the challenges, though, facing our city and our police department is diversity and trying to end up with a workforce that reflects directly the composition of the community and the surrounding area,” Jordan said. “The idea that we’re actually encouraging people from within the city to make these recommendations might be a way of getting at these other questions.”
Other discussion surrounding the proposal dealt with whether the bonus should be increased from $500 to $1,000 to have more of an effect.
“Is $500 enough to tweak someone’s idea? I mean, $500 to me is a lot of money, but it may not be a lot. I would think more $1,000, but then it becomes almost a signing bonus,” Mayor Pro Tem Judith Davis said.
McLaughlin said $1,000 would still be affordable. However, the council decided to start off at $500 to see what impact the bonus had on recruitment and then re-evaluate raising the amount later.
“I’m just thinking, what is this person doing for the $500 or the $1,000? All they’re doing is saying ‘why don’t you apply to Greenbelt?’ That takes you like one sentence to do,” Councilwoman Leta Mach said. “I think $500 is nice for one sentence. I think we should try it for $500 and see how it goes because I just don’t think that that’s an awful lot of work.”
The council approved the $500 bonus for one year, after which the policy’s success and the police department’s recruitment needs will be revisited.