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San Leandro mulls $20K in retention incentives for police officers, dispatchers

CBS SF Bay Area logo CBS SF Bay Area 6/29/2022 CBS San Francisco

SAN LEANDRO – As San Leandro faces police staffing issues, city leaders are expected to consider offering up to $20,000 in retention incentives over the next two years for officers and dispatchers.

According to the city manager's office, the payments are being considered to recognize officers and dispatchers, who have faced months of what was described as "severe vacancies," which have warranted mandatory time and emergency shifts. Officials said the amount of active deployable staff has dipped to below 60%.

"I frequently hear from our community members that they truly appreciate the hard work of our police department staff and it's important that we recognize the sacrifices our first responders make every day to keep us safe," San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter said in a statement. 

In an interview with KPIX 5, Russo said, "We want to reassure our community the same good police force you're always used to having is still going to be here."

Police officers, along with dispatchers and command staff, would receive the incentive, while the police chief would not be eligible.

Chief Abdul Pridgen, who has been in law enforcement for nearly three decades, said he knows firsthand how staffing shortages impact a police force.


Video: San Leandro mulls $20K in retention incentives for police officers, dispatchers (CBS SF Bay Area)

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"People are forced to work overtime, their days off change," Pridgen told KPIX 5 "It was putting added pressure on our staff and it's a way of saying, bear with us, things are going to get better, right now it's a really challenging period. But we want you to know that we appreciate what you're doing and here's just a little tangible way of saying that."

If approved, employees would receive a first payment of $10,000 within 30 days after the council's decision. Officials said a second payment of $7,500 would be given up to six months from the first payment, with another $2,500 six months after that.

"I am not aware of any other city that is acting as aggressively to meet hiring challenges, and it's vitally important that we take the lead with this issue that is afflicting almost every public safety agency," said City Manager Fran Robustelli. 

Officials said there was "sufficient" funding in the city budget from vacant positions to make the incentive payments. Incentives would also minimize recruitment expenses, which they said was $88,000 per position, and would prevent the loss of institutional knowledge within the department.

The council is expected to consider the incentives at its meeting on July 5.

Lauren Toms contributed reporting.

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