Add the Victoria Police Department to the list of employers getting creative in a tough labour market.
The police force is looking to boost its front-line resources quickly through a slick recruiting video and five-figure cash hiring bonus for experienced officers.
“A $20,000 incentive for experienced police officers to come join the Victoria Police Department,” Victoria Police Chief Del Manak explained.
“This offer is a limited time offer for the next 12 police officers we would be hiring.”
The force is hoping get the crop of new officers on patrol quickly by specifically recruiting experienced officers who can be onboarded in a matter of days or weeks — compared to training new recruits, which could take up to a year.
Manak said the department is currently short 35 officers.
“That is primarily due to officers being injured and being off on occupational stress injuries and whatnot,” he said.
There have also been a number of recent retirements, which Victoria City Police Union president Matt Waterman said reflects the challenges officers are facing in the capital city.
Victoria has B.C.’s worst crime severity index for a city patrolled by a municipal police force, and Waterman said the entire region’s issues tend to cluster in the downtown core.
“There are people who are retiring I would say early because it’s not always the most desirable career for everyone nowadays,” he said.
“The police officer doesn’t necessarily want to be the mental health worker. Or the addictions counsellor, but we’re being forced to because there’s not other support services available.”
The pressures of a high call volume combined with what some see as a lack of support amid the defund the police movement have also taken their toll, he said.
In addition to the challenges the union presents, VicPD is facing competition from another source: the soon-to-launch Surrey Police Service.
In a recent interview with CKNW, Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer said that force had recruited away 20 VPD officers and he believed dozens more could follow them.
Despite the challenges, Manak said the response to the recruiting drive have been strongly positive.
“It’s literally day one and we’ve already seen applications come in and more I know are on the way,” he said.
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