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Fort Pierce considers incentives for police officers to reduce turnover

Posted at 1:02 PM, Aug 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-03 03:32:16-04

City officials in Fort Pierce met Thursday to improve incentives and pay for police officers in an effort to reduce the high turnover rate.

Multiple current and former Fort Pierce police officers told WPTV last week that the pay and lack of seniority benefits was leading to high turnover.

In five years, the president of the Fort Pierce Police Officers Association said 77 officers were hired, but more than 50 left, not including officers who left for retirement or medical leave.

They said veteran officers were not making much more money than new officers, so many are leaving for better paying departments.

In a budget workshop held Thursday, commissioners voiced their support for the following proposed incentives for officers:
  • $250 housing voucher per month to live in the city
  • Bigger healthcare savings for officers paying for dependents in a family healthcare plan
  • Increasing starting pay to increase raises. Step one would be a 3 percent increase for Fiscal Year 2019 and 5 percent for 2020 as funding permits.
  • Reducing the amount of time it takes to become vested in the pension program from 10 years to five years. This has already been approved.

One officer at the meeting, who works undercover and did not want to be identified, said the incentives are a start to helping officers bring home more pay.

City leaders also discussed requiring new officers to sign contracts that would require them to stay with the Fort Pierce Police Department for a certain number of years before they could be recruited to other departments. 

After a series of public hearings regarding these proposed incentives, the city is scheduled to approve the budget in September.