SEASIDE, Calif. - The Seaside City Council unanimously approved the $30,000 sign-on bonus for "lateral move" police officers - officers who arrive from other police departments.
The Council voted to approve the proposal from the Seaside Police Department at their Thursday night meeting. One member of the public discussed the idea that the high dollar amount would attract officers that are "not suitable for this community," but Police Chief Abdul Pridgen said that they have a strict hiring process and everyone who works in the department is qualified.
Seaside Police Department has 11 empty positions, which KION is told are largely in the patrol division. Pridgen argued at Thursday's meeting that the bonus would get officers on the street more quickly. He said that it takes months (up to 14 months) for new officers to get through the academy, which also costs the department 25 to 30 thousand dollars. Pridgen also confirmed that the short staffing has officers often working 14 to 16 hours days.
According to the city resolution, the 30 thousand dollars will be paid to qualified officers over two years:
- $10,000 in the first full pay period of employment
- $10,000 in the first full pay period following completion of probation
- $10,000 in the first full pay period following the second anniversary date of employment with the City
The city says the money to pay the signing bonuses will come from current salary savings of the unfilled positions.
KION recently asked Pridgen if this proposal has anything to do with the debate in Salinas over officer pay. The City of Salinas imposed a new contract on their officers that include no pay increase and a higher health care contribution from the officers. Pridgen says they are not related and the plan for the 30 thousand dollar bonus has been in the works for months.
Jim Knowlton, President of the Salinas Police Officers Association, sent KION the following statement after Seaside's decision to approve the bonus:
"We applaud Chief Pridgen's leadership in addressing Seaside's staffing crisis and the City Council's wise move to invest in attracting quality officers as quickly as possible. This approach lies in stark contrast to the City of Salinas which has cut officer pay and has produced zero plan to fill our growing vacancies. The residents and public safety suffer because of their reckless indifference to our community's needs."