Friday, February 23, 2007

Cops Needed

It was good to see this item in the Eureka Reporter.

We keep hearing, at least in some circles, that we need to raise the salary levels of police officers in Eureka to keep them from moving elsewhere and taking jobs with other departments that pay better.

I'm sure that will always be the case, to some extent, but we have to realize that Eureka P.D. isn't the only department short of personnel as the Eureka Reporter article suggests.

There is a nationwide shortage of police officers, at least by the standards of those who determine staffing levels. For those that want a "cop on every corner", there'll probably never be enough.

Some cops will always be in search of the next, and better, carreer opportunity. Others might just want to find the department, and job environment, they're comfortable with.

This idea of continually raising the salaries and benefits of cops might have some merit, but I think it's an idea doomed to an endless circle as more and more communities keep raising pay and benefits: One city ups the other. The next city does the same to be competitive and it goes on and on.

Whether Eureka P.D.'s change of policy in paying for recruits to attend the academy will pay off is anyone's guess. Some, like myself over 20 years ago, put themselves through the academy to be able to present themselves as an inexpensive asset to a potential employer.

Some cities have always paid for the recruits training.

Seems to me, since there are shortages of cops across the country, it probably makes little difference whether a department pays for all recruits training or only accepts those already having been through the academy.

Only time will tell if the change in Eureka's policy will pay off. I suspect it will make little if any difference since the reasons cops stay or leave a particular department involve more than just the money they get.

23 Comments:

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Greg said...

There is a sense of supply-and-demand when it comes to recruiting good police officer candidates. For many, many years local political types have thought that Humboldt's rare atmosphere and "low" cost of living (never understood that one) could attract local recruits who value staying here over the higher incomes available elsewhere. As it turns out, that opinion, if ever true, is true no longer. Twenty years ago I ran for Eureka council saying "we need more police officers and we need to pay them better". Last year, Larry Glass campaigned with the same basic statement. At this point it seems enough to just recruit to the vacant positions. Have any local media outlets published comparisons of starting wages/benefits for police recruits in cities like Ukiah, Santa Rosa, and Redding? Eureka may have to find the bucks to compete.

 
At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just bucks. I know a lot of Humboldt cops, and almost every one of them who has been here for awhile is just sick of the place.
There is no sense of community support or appreciation. Every mistake is magnified, every act of heroism or compentence is taken for granted or ignored, the pendulum of public life is so far
left it's just not worth being in public service. Even one of Murl's
kids left town. For Texas.

 
At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just Humboldt cops that feel this way. Cops all over the country are bailing as soon as they can. What used to be, ala the Harphams, a multi-generational occupation, is no more. Cops are telling their kids "Don't even think about it, they don't pay me enough to put up with all this crap". It used to be only about money and other contract benefits. Now it's about getting second (and third and fourth) guessed about every split second decision that is made, sued, jailed, etc. And rarely, if ever, even a thank you when something does go right. So, now, Noel, Greg, Christina, Ken, and all the others, will be stuck with those candidates that are not able to get jobs somewhere else, or are dumb enough to want to do what used to be a good profession.

 
At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Eureka Police Department has the support of most of this community, even though the local papers may falsely report the majority of Eurekans fear or hate their police department.

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger Heraldo said...

Now it's about getting second (and third and fourth) guessed about every split second decision that is made, sued, jailed, etc.

When is the last time a Humboldt County cop went to jail?

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Greg wrote, "Eureka may have to find the bucks to compete.".

I don't know that we want to get into a wage war, although I suppose to some extent one could argue that's what's happening now.

There's always going to be one city that can pay more than another city. We raise our pay, the other city counters with a raise and we're back to square one.

There's no easy answer but I still maintain that different cops work different places for different reasons. Some might only be interested in the money, some might be satisfied with a good work environment.

One thing about paying for recruits academy time is departments usually have the recruit sign a contract that they'll stay with the department for a given number of years after they graduate the academy. I think I heard somewhere that three years of service generally makes it worth it for a department to put a recruit through the academy.

Kind of makes you wonder, though, if you might not be more likely to get someone who's already interested in another department and just wants Eureka to pay his way through school so after three years he could join the other department.

You end up back at square one, just like you were before you started paying for academy time.

No easy answer, but I think we'll be wrong to get in to wage wars with other cities.

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Heraldo wrote, "When is the last time a Humboldt County cop went to jail?".

Sheriff Dave Renner? Don't remember if he actually went to jail or not, though.

Then there's our old District Attorney, Bernie DePauli. Anyone remember him? He got into all kinds of trouble after he left office, if memory serves me correct.

 
At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They only hired half of the last academy. Thats not good news. There are lots of people who want to be cops, but apparently only about 50% are qualified for one reason or another.

 
At 4:41 PM, Blogger Derchoadus said...

Then what's the point of the academy? Wouldn't it be to graduate qualified personnel? Or is it just another money maker for the collage? I would think if aren't hire-able by the local police departments, you shouldn't receive the certificate/credit. And why isn't a background check mandatory to take the academy? Not after the fact....

 
At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep...

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

The bottom line is economics. The large jurisdictions in the state operate their own academies. The LASO academy is(/was?) 16 weeks of Marine Corps boot camp lite with considerable psychological stress training (how you react to being spit on by protected minorities) and being screamed at by supervisors etc. Couple that with complying with the political correct bullshit that has been going on since the early 60's and you have the present very expensive law enforcement bill for Kalifornia jurisdictions. ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ' pay rate at retirement in 1979 was $2250.00/mo. The present rate is $8833.00/mo. The CHP recruits typically work 10+ years in the urban areas and upon obtaining sufficient seniority apply for and receive assignments in the less stressful rural areas (noticed how local CHP officers/revenuers seem to be "mature"?) As long as society requires extraordinary results from those employees, a premium will be paid for qualified employees who elect to put up with the bullshit.

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Fred said...

"Then what's the point of the academy? Wouldn't it be to graduate qualified personnel? Or is it just another money maker for the collage?"

It's a little of both, as I see it.

 
At 6:21 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Derchoadus wrote,
"And why isn't a background check mandatory to take the academy? Not after the fact....".

I believe they do background checks for academy applicants now, but I can't say that with certainty.

I have a story about that. Let me know if you're interested.

 
At 7:25 PM, Blogger Greg said...

There is a point in what you're saying about graduating qualified personnel. Departments have their own psychological and physical standards and are very reluctant to lower standards. The answer seems to be to qualify the individual then put them on the payroll and put them through the academy. To some it looks more expensive, but the employment contracts include a guaranteed tour of duty from the recruit. They put in an obligatory number of years for the organization that paid them to go to school. After that, of course, it's back to the competitive market.

 
At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some interesting points by several people, except "heraldo".

The former Sheriff, Renner, did spend some time in jail, as did the former DA, DePauli. DePauli even graduated to prison.

Mr. heraldo can you provide any detailed accurate facts (and I mean REAL facts) that would support your inuendo that a local cop should go to or have gone to jail?

Oh well it is true there is a serious shortage of cops state (and nation) wide. In L.A. Arizona cities try to recuit California cops.

I would submit that one of the reasons, other than pay and benefits, that Eureka can't get enough qualified people to fill the open positions is because of very vocal cop haters brigade, which includes hairaldo, ken miller, and other such notables.

 
At 10:00 PM, Blogger Rose said...

It's not just the hate. It is the frustration that comes when you do your job well and take it seriously, and you hand over the bad guys to the DAs office who lets them walk. The wry quip that they are back on the streets before the officer gets his paperwork filled out tells you how they feel.

 
At 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How true Rose. Look what the lax prosecution has done for the community! Armed cocaine and meth dealers that expose their kids to crackheads and tweekers get probation. Felony drunk drivers get probation (but she just hurt a cop ..... who cares about them right?) Felony hit and run, probation.

Whatever happened to the Times Standard "on the record" in Sundays paper. There used to be a half page or more of convictions with criminals going to prison? Who goes to prison anymore ? All this talk about meth being the modern day evil. How is it that all methheads in Humboldt County get probation ?

 
At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred

Prior to 1977 all police academy attendees HAD TO be hired by a law enforement agency to attend. Sometime in 1976 the Jr. College system was sued or challenged to allow any student to attend the police academy because the police academy's are funded by the State Jr. College system. And as a result somewhere between 40 and 60% of the academy attendees since then will never get a law enforcement job.

 
At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cirtical shortage of cops everywhere should alarm everyone. Sooner or later the police, law enforcement, will have to lower standards just to fill positions.

This problem seems to be really bad in Humboldt County. The pay is low, the benefits so so, and the cost of housing is high. What do you have to recruit talented career cops to HC ? A DA that seems to be after the cops more than he is the crooks ? A DA with a legacy of Richard S., Tim S., plagiarism, favors for friends ? It's only going to get worse.

 
At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg,
There is no way to force the recruit the officer to work for the city that funded them. One local city "loaned" $$$ to recruits who came to work for that city with the idea the loan would be paid back with service time. Only problem is, one of the officers went and got a job elsewhere, after finding out that the service contract was not legally enforceable, nor was he legally required to pay the loan, which funded his academy education, back. The city ended up eating the "loan".

 
At 8:31 PM, Blogger Greg said...

5:24, I e-mailed my kid the cop to ask about this and will report back.

 
At 2:38 PM, Blogger Derchoadus said...

Anon 5:24 must be talking about Fortuna.

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger Greg said...

5:34, you are correct. At one time (probably years ago) some departments worked with recruitment contracts, but apparently it was, as you say, found to be illegal. Most recruits stay with the department that puts them through academy for a period of time, anyway, out of an appropriate sense of obligation/loyalty. At least, that's the word from #1 son.

 

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