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Santa Fe Police Department offering hiring incentives

Santa Fe police is stepping up recruiting efforts by offering hiring incentives for new cadets and experienced officers. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The Santa Fe Police Department is stepping up recruitment efforts by raising the starting pay for cadets and offering a $15,000 hiring incentive for experienced officers working at other law enforcement agencies.

“We’re very excited about this and are looking forward to filling our vacant positions,” Ben Valdez, an SFPD deputy chief, said in a phone interview on Monday.

SFPD currently has 141 officers, but is budgeted to employ 169, leaving it with 28 vacancies. That means the police force is operating at 83.4% capacity.

Valdez said the department has lost 14 officers since July 1 last year, mostly through retirements and resignations. Only one officer left to work for another law enforcement agency.

But, in 2018, SFPD lost 10 officers alone to the Albuquerque Police Department, which at that time was aggressively recruiting officers. Three more Santa Fe officers left to go to work for APD in 2019.

APD’s recruitment effort also involved offering bonuses to officers from outside agencies.

“We’re looking to find people who are maybe on the fence about where they are at now and get them excited about serving the city of Santa Fe,” Valdez said.

Officers making the lateral move to Santa Fe will receive $7,500 at the time they are hired and another $7,500 after completing a one-year probation period. They will also receive 160 hours of annual leave upon hire.

Lateral hires must sign an agreement to work two full years at SFPD, Valdez said.

Meanwhile, SFPD is upping the starting pay for incoming cadets from $19.11 per hour to $21 per hour, beginning next month.

According to a news release, SFPD has nine police cadets in the hiring process and four more who recently earned the police chief’s recommendation for hire, meaning as many as 13 could begin training at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy in May.

Cadets are also awarded a $1,000 hiring incentive.

Following a recommendation by the National Police Foundation, SFPD bolstered its efforts to attract police officers by assigning another officer to recruitment on a temporary basis.

It has also increased the number of testing sessions for new recruits from one to four per month and has increased its presence at local job fairs.

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