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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro suggests signing bonuses to recruit first responders

Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote a letter to lawmakers and made 6 suggestions to increase recruitment and retain first responders.

  • Julia Agos
A Lancaster Police Vehicle is seen in the city following a night of protests on September 14, 2020.

Kate Landis / WITF

A Lancaster Police Vehicle is seen in the city following a night of protests on September 14, 2020.

(Harrisburg) —  The national labor shortage is touching many sectors across Pennsylvania – including law enforcement and first responders

Police departments have been struggling to find officers for years and  have over 1,200 vacancies across the state, according to the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission.

More than 60% of departments have seen at least a 25% drop in applications in the past five years, according to a nationwide survey conducted in 2019 by the Police Executive Research Forum.

A recent survey of the state’s 911 call centers showed one in five positions are unfilled, with at least 350 openings statewide.

Pennsylvania state Attorney General Josh Shapiro met with law enforcement leaders across the state and recently sent a letter to lawmakers with several recommendations for how the state could recruit and retain emergency workers.

“These vacancies are impacting every region in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro wrote in his letter to lawmakers.

Shapiro’s letter included six recommendations:

  • A $6,000 signing bonus for new officers.
  • A $1,200 in hero pay to retain first responders and 911 operators.
  • Expand and guarantee state funding to covering the cost of cadet training.
  • Create new scholarships up to $8,500 for new officer training
  • Expand outreach and recruitment efforts.

“While you must prioritize between a variety of worthy causes, and current workforce shortages impact many professions, I believe we must hire hundreds of new officers to fill these vacancies,” Shapiro wrote. “Filling these open positions will make our neighborhoods safer and allow departments to restart foot patrols and outreach efforts that build and repair relationships between the police and the communities they serve.”


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