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Police departments struggle to hire, cash incentives attracting officers from other departments

The cash incentives aim to entice officers making lateral moves from other police departments in the state.

BOULDER, Colo. — Even on one of the most beautiful college campuses, recruitment can still be difficult.

"I think nationally there’s a recruitment crisis in policing," said Chief Doreen Jokerst with the CU Boulder Police Department. 

As police departments face staffing shortages, some are offering cash bonuses to try and recruit officers from other departments. It comes as agencies across the state struggle to hire, with Denver Police announcing Tuesday that nearly 100 officers have left since the start of the year.

"We are looking for someone in our police department and our policing profession that really has a call to service, that has a servant heart and a servant mind," said Jokerst. 

It’s a good pitch, but they’re also willing to pay for it.

"Right now we’re offering $5,000 for laterals, for people who are already sworn officers in the state of Colorado," said Tom Matlock, a commander with the CU Boulder Police Department. "They can come here and get a $5,000 bonus for signing on with us."

Officers who come from other departments are easier to train, already have certifications, and start working the streets quicker than having to go through an academy like a new recruit.

"We know the competition," said Matlock. "There’s a lot of competition out there. There’s a lot of police departments out there."   

The CU Boulder Police Department also gives employees tuition assistance to get their degree at CU. 

They are not the only agency looking to recruit officers with hiring bonuses for lateral transfers. Loveland and Westminster are two of many more hoping to get people’s attention with cash.  

The pandemic along with nationwide protests for police reform have had an impact on what was already a tough and dangerous job.

"I think it has hurt with retention of police officers and with recruitment of police officers," said Jokerst. 

Now Chief Jokerst is hoping hiring incentives make a view like CU Boulder even sweeter.