MASON CITY — The City Council in Mason City this week approved wage changes as well as incentives to help the city’s Police Department recruit new officers.
Currently the police force is down 11 budgeted officers and recent wage surveys reflected an urgent need to make a market adjustment in officer wage scales in order to offer a competitive starting wage for new officers and to attract experienced certified officers from Iowa and throughout the Midwest.
Police Chief Jeff Brinkley says he’s hoping to be able to attract officers who are already certified since they could be placed into the full-time workforce five to six months faster than an officer that would have to go through the certification process. “A new officer without academy training would be on for about a month before we get them down to the academy. That stay is 16 weeks, so that’s four more months, and then about four months of field training. So you’re talking about nine months, day to hire to sole patrol, under a perfect situation. A certified officer, you bring them in, they are already Iowa certified if they are in-state, if they are out-of-state they do certification through examination. We complete field training with them and then they are serviceable. Depending on their learning curve, in this situation we are looking at abbreviating field training to some degree on a case-by-case basis depending on the officer’s experience, they may already be familiar with our records management system and some of those other things that take a little bit to learn, and then we can speed that up. So I’m hoping we can get them serviceable in 12-14 weeks.”
Brinkley says one of the tools they have been using to seek out potential candidates is a recruitment video. “It specifically spells out some of the things that officers are looking for that are maybe in those situations where they are in a community that is not supportive of them or they go to work every night and actually hate it because of the community they work in. We’re going after those people that want to come here and be supported by their community. If you’ve seen our recruitment video, you’ve seen the ‘Support Law Enforcement’ signs that we’ve printed and gave out to the public, we took a bunch of pictures of houses those sit in front of, and the billboards you’ve seen around town that people have rented that say thanks for doing your job and thanks for protecting our community. We’re hoping to seize on that.”
Brinkley was asked by councilman Tom Thoma about how successful the recent recruitment efforts have been. Brinkley says, “Since Friday, we’ve probably had a half dozen already, one a day. We’re starting to get some.” Thoma replied, “I’m in favor of it, I can’t wait to see the results and see what we can bring in.”
Among the incentives approved by the council are a $5000 signing bonus to any certified officer hired, $3000 toward closing costs of the purchase of a home in Mason City by new certified officers, and $6000 toward relocation expenses such as moving costs, temporary housing, and temporary insurance costs.