HARRISBURG, Pa. — Editors note: The attached video is from July 8.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced new pay incentives for short-staffed police departments.
On Tuesday, Shapiro announced that 'hero pay' retention bonuses for police officers who have been working in under-staffed departments can be funded via the recently passed state budget.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who have taken on extra shifts and worked longer hours, under the toughest conditions of their careers, to protect the public," said Shapiro.
The additional pay and bonuses may be funded from the recently authorized Local Law Enforcement Support Grant Program administered by Pa. Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).
The grant program will award $135 million to local police departments to upgrade equipment, establish new units- including crisis intervention teams, retain law enforcement personnel, and recruit the next generation of police officers.
In a letter to police chiefs across the commonwealth, Shapiro wrote that the Office of Attorney General will help any interested police department in Pennsylvania submit an application to give officers currently standing and in good standing a $1,200 retention bonus.
Short staffing issues hs affected departments large and small across the state. Many departments have seen applications drop dramatically over the last few years.
“I know that money alone will not reverse the shortage of officers in our departments,” said Shapiro. “Being a police officer is an honorable profession and is one of the best ways to serve the public."
A survey of Pennsylvania’s 911 call centers from the same time shows one in five positions are unfilled with at least 350 openings statewide.
"We need a coordinated statewide response that includes recruitment programs that create new pathways to policing by introducing young people and the public to all the positive impact they can make in law enforcement and other in-need public safety careers," Shapiro said.
The Office of the Attorney General has stated that they will continue to advocate for additional strategies, including expanding Act 89 funding, to cover the cost of training cadets. A coordinated statewide recruitment effort is also being planned, which will emphasize that being a police officer is an impactful way to serve the community.