Norfolk proposes offering up to $12k bonuses to retain police officers

Virginia News

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk City Council could soon vote to give some police officers $12,000 bonuses if they agree to stay with the department for at least five more years.

It’s all part of a proposed police officer retention bonus program, aimed at addressing “the growing number of vacancies in sworn positions due to an increasing rate of resignations and a decrease in applications for recruitment classes within the Police Department,” according to City Council’s upcoming agenda.

If the program is approved Tuesday, Norfolk would be the second city in Hampton Roads this month to incentivize officers not to jump ship to other opportunities.

Under the plan brought forward by City Manager Chip Filer, an eligible officer will receive the bonus upfront in exchange for a five-year commitment to the department.

Current sworn officers, corporals and sergeants could receive $12,000, lieutenants and captains $8,000 and recruits in the police academy could receive $5,000 once they graduate.

The plan will cost $4.7 million to implement and operate under the “early bird gets the worm” model in which the bonuses will decrease as the number of vacancies dwindle.

As of early July, Police Chief Larry Boone said the department had just over 600 sworn officers, 140 officers short of what they’re budgeting for.

It’s an issue that isn’t unique to Norfolk. While Filer declined to comment on the proposal before briefing City Council, this comes after the Virginia Beach Police Department implemented a $5,000 recruitment bonus.

Chesapeake City Council recently approved giving all officers a $5,000 retention bonus in response to VBPD’s bonuses.

Even with Norfolk police officers receiving more, Norfolk Police Union IBPO Local 412 President Matt Watson posted on Facebook his disapproval.

“I in fact will not accept this bonus, it is a slap in the face if it does not come with a change in our pay, steps and most important the culture of the Department,” Watson said in his post. “I will not sell myself for $200 a month.”

$12,000 over five years breaks down to $200 a month.

The City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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