Penzone: ‘Bidding wars’ for law enforcement hires is not a solution

Jan 13, 2022, 2:30 PM
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone worries that recruitment efforts in local law enforcement has led to “bidding wars” that will do more harm than good.

“We’re kind of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.

“We need to start recruiting out of state so that we’re not stealing from each other. We will not be strong if one agency pays more and draws people to go there, away from another agency. We are all intertwined in this county and in the state.”

Law enforcement across metro Phoenix and the nation has come under under scrutiny following public calls for more accountability in policing actions in the months after several officer-related deaths of minorities.

Some police agencies in the Valley have been offering thousands of dollars in incentives for lateral hires and new recruits.

Last fall, the Glendale Police Department announced it would pay in-state lateral officers a $10,000 bonus.

Around the same time, the Phoenix Police Department announced it would pay a $7,500 bonus to signees and the Mesa Police Department promoted a $5,000 bonus for certain hires.

The Peoria Police Department has advertised $6,000 in incentive pay for lateral, experienced officers.

The Tempe Police Department launched a recruiting program last summer that included a $5,000 signing bonus for lateral officers and $3,500 for new officers.

Maricopa County recently listed a $3,000 signing bonus for sheriff department detention officers.

“We have a deterioration in our ability to recruit and retain employees because it’s become a less appealing profession due to a lot of factors, that include … demonization [and] the safety issues,” Penzone said.

“This state, more than any other, should be thriving when we look at opportunities for employment and law enforcement should be the tip of the spear because you can’t thrive in a community if you’re not a safe community.”

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Penzone: ‘Bidding wars’ for law enforcement hires is not a solution