The nationwide police officer shortage continues, and we're seeing it right here in the nation's capital.
As agencies work to attract potential recruits with competitive benefits packages, others are turning it up by increasing the sign-on bonus.
In Prince George's County, the police department says they want the best of the best. Their sign-on bonus was $3,000 just last month, and now it's up to $10,000 for new recruits and $15,000 for officers with experience.
Acting Deputy Chief Levi Carson says they want to compete, but most importantly, they want to fill their vacancies so they can better protect their community.
Right now, the department has about 320 sworn officer vacancies, and that's not unusual.
Carson says he can't put his finger on the exact reason why people are leaving. He says many officers are retiring, and others are just leaving the force and going into other careers.
At the moment, PGPD has 1,462 sworn officers in their department, but they want to fill the vacancies so they can be at 1,786, which is the department's authorized strength.
"We are serious about keeping our staffing levels up and providing the community with the best level of police service that we can, which we have been doing and continue to do," says Deputy Chief Carson. "But that is also letting individuals know that want to join our department, that we know how important this job is. That’s why we are offering these bonuses."
PGPD isn't the only department offering sign-on bonuses. DC Police is now offering $20,000 to new recruits. They currently have 3,476 officers, but their goal is to have 4,000.
In Arlington, the police department has about 50 vacancies and is offering $3,000 for new hires. Alexandria has seen a 10% decline in staffing, and in Prince William County, they have 74 vacancies.
PGPD says they will spread out the bonuses in the first year, something they say they are proud of because in other departments, it's done over multiple years.