La Habra PD offers $10K bonuses to experienced officers to fill open positions

By Shawn Price

A cash bonus could be all the incentive some experienced officers might need to join the La Habra PD.

A pilot program, approved by the city council July 17, will be offering bonuses of up to $10,000 as the agency addresses the same understaffing problem police departments are facing across the country. And experienced officers are valuable.

“Chief (Jerry) Price recognizes that changing jobs can be a difficult decision,” said Captain of Operations George Johnstone. “He wants to provide an incentive for good police officers to take a look at the La Habra Police Department and learn what a great police department is doing in a great community.”

Johnstone acknowledged that La Habra is not alone when it comes to being understaffed. The department is currently seven officers short of the 72 it is budgeted for and pending retirements could impact that number even more.

“LHPD’s response of providing bonuses to qualified lateral officers is one unique to the region,” Johnstone said. “Chief Price is hopeful that the unique incentive is one that will prove attractive to good police officers wanting to work for an agency that is willing to demonstrate innovation and creativity.”

Like a signing bonus in professional sports, eligible officers will receive a $5,000 bonus when they’re hired, with the remaining amount paid after completing their 12-month probation.

The program is being funded by the city with $50,000 left over from the 2016-2017 budget.

Johnstone said LHPD has a variety of assignments within the department, including: school resource officers, K9 handlers, motor officers, commercial enforcement as well as positions in the general investigations and special investigations units.

Some La Habra PD officers are shown in this 2016 photo. They are, from left, Cpl. Tonya Sauer, (Ret.) Sgt. Jeff Baylos, Officer Kevin Love, K9 Officer Travis Nelson, Officer Judith Casillas and Officer Daniel Uberin. Photo courtesy of La Habra PD

Other duties could include regional SWAT, bicycle patrol, press information officer, and social media liaison. All new hires and lateral officers must first complete field training and a 12-month probation before they are eligible for other duties and special assignments. Also, a one-to-three year accumulated police service time is required for those assignments, based on the assignment.

Experienced applicants must be currently employed as a peace officer in good standing by a California-authorized jurisdiction, have completed a field training program with the current agency, and possess or qualify to possess a California POST Basic Certificate.

Patrol officers work three 12-and-a-half-hour shifts per week with a 10-hour payback shift. Special assignments work four 10-hour shifts per week.

The department also has other non-bonus part-time and full-time positions available.

Those wishing to find out more are encouraged to contact Corporal Paul McPhillips of the Professional Standards Unit, 562-383-4332 or go to Current Employment Opportunities for more information.