Camas OKs police hiring bonuses

New officers will receive between $10K and $30K

Camas officials have agreed to “sweeten the pot” for potential police recruits by offering financial bonuses worth up to $30,000 to police officers who choose to work for the city of Camas.

“In the current labor market, hiring police officers has become extremely competitive,” Jennifer Gorsuch, the city’s administrative services director, told the Camas City Council during a July 18 workshop and again during the Council’s meeting on Aug. 1. “Offering bonuses to police officers has become pretty common. The majority of (police departments) around us are providing these types of bonuses.”

Camas Police Chief Mitch Lackey has signaled his support for the hiring-bonus initiative, and Gorsuch said local police union representatives “are aware (of the bonus policy) and know current employees will not benefit from it, but support it” because they hope the financial incentives will help “bring quality applicants to their department.”

The city’s new policy, which is retroactive to June 1, 2022, will offer all new police recruits a $3,000 bonus in their first paycheck and an additional $7,000 after the officer has completed their probationary period and required training. Lateral police officers — those coming from other police departments — will receive up to $30,000 through a hiring bonus system that gives the experienced police officers $8,000 in their first paycheck and additional financial incentives for remaining with the department: $3,500 after they’ve completed two years in Camas; another $3,500 after three years, a third $3,500 bonus after four years and a final bonus of $8,000 after they’ve worked for the Camas Police Department for five years.

If a police recruit does not successfully complete their probationary period or leaves the city for any reason during the qualifying period, they will not be eligible for further bonus payments. Former Camas police officers are eligible for the bonus program if they “resigned or retired from the agency in good standing and have been separated from service for more than 24 months.”

Gorsuch said the City can decide “at any time” to modify or discontinue the bonus program.

Camas City Councilman Don Chaney, who was Camas’ chief of police before Lackey, said in July that he supported the police hiring incentive program.

“Recent times have caused the whole nation to review the quality of the candidate who is applying for law enforcement jobs,” Chaney said during the Council’s July 18 workshop. “As a result, we have heard that a good number of police officers — good officers — are leaving. And I think fewer people want to become police officers. The challenge is: Do you lower your standards or do you strive to recruit the quality level of officer that we want patrolling our cities?”

Offering a monetary bonus, Chaney said, could help Camas recruit higher quality candidates.

“It’s critically important that we get the best candidates we can get,” Chaney said.

According to the city’s 2022 salary schedule, Camas police officers currently earn between $80,688 and $96,348 per year. The city’s police sergeants earn between $95,484 and $113,928 annually.