Though the idea of defunding the police has become more popular since the summer of Black Lives Matter, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department continues to address staffing shortages.
A 2016 study on staffing by the Public Safety Strategies Group revealed that the PCSD is overall a lean organization in terms of staffing. Meaning, a small command staff taking on a large workload and fewer deputies available to answer calls.
“This presents challenges to organizational effectiveness and creates a higher level of risk and liability. While the deputy sheriffs are dedicated to delivering high-quality police services, there are simply not enough of them assigned to the patrol function,” PSSG found in their study.
The $10,000 incentive comes in two installments: $5,000 in the officer’s second paycheck and the rest once they are released from Training to Central Patrol. The Seattle Police Department once offered a $15,000 hiring bonus and, in 2018, The Bellevue Police Department offered a $16,000 hiring bonus.
Though Pierce County has funding for 28 deputy positions, Chief of Administrative Services Nick Hausner said in August 2020 in a presentation to the Council’s Committee of the Whole, 78 employees were eligible to retire in 2020 and another 34 could retire by 2022.
While the PCSD tries to hire more staff, police investment isn’t a priority for all. After the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and the Black Lives Matter protests of that summer, more people are calling on the government to defund the police.
“Police departments take up huge percentages of municipal budgets (34% in Tacoma). The only way to adequately fund mental health, healthcare, community services, housing, programming, etcetera, without major new revenue will be redistributing money from policing,” said Devin Kelly, the chair of the outreach committee at the Tacoma Democratic Socialists of America.
According to Pierce County’s 2020-2021 biennial budget, the Sheriff’s Department uses 40.6% of its general fund. For the PCSD, the idea of defunding the police is less important than proper staffing.
“While other jurisdictions are busy with political posturing and ‘defunding the police’, Pierce County is moving forward to fill our existing vacancies,” according to a statement from the PCSD Facebook Page.
Applications to fill the vacancies and earn the $10,000 signing bonus started in August 2020 and closed in January 2021. To find current vacancies in Pierce County Government online, navigate to their website piercecountywa.
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