September 16 – A $10,000 hiring incentive goes into effect for new recruits to the McAlester Police Department who are already certified by the state Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. law.

Police Chief Kevin Hearod hopes the $10,000 hiring incentive will prove helpful in attracting more officers to MPD who are already CLEET certified, saving the city the expense and time to have to send a new recruit through the CLEET Academy. Hearod said it takes several months to complete the CLEET Academy training.

“With signing bonuses, we hope we can get certified agents working at other agencies to apply,” Hearod said Thursday.

Hearod maintained that paying a $10,000 incentive to new MPD recruits who are already CLEET certified will save the city money, as it costs more than $12,000 to pay a new hire. to go through the CLEET Academy.

The MPD also has money to pay bonuses due for several unfilled positions in the police force, he said.

City councilors voted unanimously to approve the hiring incentive this week at their regular Tuesday night meeting at City Hall. Hearod previously presented information regarding this $10,000 incentive request at the first board meeting in August, recounting how difficult it is to attract new recruits to a career as a police officer these days — not just locally, but also nationally.

MPD is planned for 45 agents, but several positions are vacant.

“We have 41 officers,” Hearod said, but only 39 are available. “Thirty-nine are certified and two are in the academy.”

With the police force already reduced by four officers, Hearod said three other MPD officers have already told him they intend to retire over the next few months – one in the winter and two more this spring.

In addition to the cost of getting a new recruit certified CLEET, Hearod said CLEET offers instruction on a limited basis. “They only do it three times a year,” he said.

The metric approving the $10,000 incentive for previously CLEET-certified agents who sign with MPD includes a breakdown of how it will be paid.

He requests that $5,000 be paid in the first regular pay period after the already CLEET-certified agent is officially hired.

Another $2,500 will be paid on the first regular pay period after successful completion of the MPD field training program.

The final installment of $2,500 is to be paid on the first regular pay period after the employee completes the one-year probationary period of employment with MPD.

New hires participating in the program must sign a written agreement and promissory note agreeing to remain employed with the City of McAlester for at least five years from the date of hire.

If the employee does not fulfill the agreement for any reason, the employee is responsible for refunding the prorated portion of the signing inducement.

The $10,000 hiring incentive is not available to serving McAlester police officers. Those who have already left MPD but wish to return are also not eligible for the $10,000 incentive program.

Training at the CLEET Academy is only part of the process required to join MPD. On-the-job training is also required, which typically takes 10 to 12 weeks, Hearod said. This is in addition to physical requirements, a background check and other things required to register as a McAlester police officer.

Hearod said he appreciates the board approving the bonus program. He also received support from Mayor John Browne and City Manager David Andren.

“I was really happy and proud that we got a unanimous vote,” Hearod said. “We’re a bit understaffed; a lot of people have retired and gone to other agencies. That will go a long way to solving this problem.”

City Manager Andren said at the August council meeting that offering a $10,000 bonus to already certified police officers is viable for the town of McAlester, noting that’s less than the approximately $12,000 the city ​​has to pay to send uncertified police officers through CLEET training.

“If we’re going to hire someone off the street, it’s $12,000” to give them the required CLEET training, he said.

Hearod said the city has other incentive programs, such as a retirement system, staged salary increases and a pay raise for getting more education, along with other incentives.

He said the city needed to offer bonuses to new police recruits in order to be competitive in hiring more officers.

“Law enforcement is struggling to recruit, train and retain police officers,” Hearod said at the previous meeting. That’s also true at McAlester, he said.

“We’ve been struggling for some time to find qualified recruits,” Hearod said.

Contact James Beaty at [email protected]

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