In this Issue…

Addressing the Police Staffing CrisisOn September 7, I submitted to the Board a consideration item to use carryover funds to begin addressing our police staffing crisis. My consideration item includes extending DROP by two years for only those current police officers at the rank of Lieutenant and below who are already in DROP, establishing a reserve of $2.5M for recruiting bonuses, and authorizing the Chief of Police to hire back retired officers who are willing to serve on patrol. While Chief Davis announced this staffing crisis in July, we have been able to see this coming for the last couple of years. This is not merely a shortage, this a critical need that has caused our department to eliminate many of the specialty units that have taken our department from good to great over the years and to adopt a major shift change recently. This shift change puts a strain on our officers in both their professional and personal lives. I commend Chief Davis and our police department for identifying the shortage as a crisis and doing everything in their power to mitigate its effects. While they have done all they can within their constraints, the Board can and should be doing more.

Recruitment and retention are critical challenges facing not only our police department but others across the nation as well. Other departments have been responding with both increases in salaries and creative recruiting and retention measures like bonuses, extensions of DROP and rehiring former officers. Before the Board adopted the FY 2022 budget back in the spring, I proposed a consideration item that would make police compensation more competitive with our surrounding jurisdictions by focusing a 10 percent salary increase on officers Second Lieutenant and below, including APPOs. Instead of fully funding this increase that focuses on the area where we most need officers, the Board spread a 4.5 percent increase across all public safety. Since then, we have seen officers leave for better pay, or enter DROP.

For the last three years, this Board has talked about the issues with police compensation. Yet, the Board has not made it a funding priority either in the annual budgets or the carryover package. I advocated for targeted police salary increases during the budget process and now our hands are tied on salaries until the next budget process as, according to longstanding Board policy, nonrecurring funds should only be spent on nonrecurring expenditures. During next year’s budget, we will again have the opportunity to address critical salary increases.

In the meantime, we need to do whatever we can with onetime funds and other creative measures to address this critical public safety need. As I mentioned above, these are the steps I have proposed to the Board:

• On a one-time basis, extend DROP by two years for only those current police officers at the rank of Lieutenant and below who are already in DROP.

• Provide $2.5M to establish a reserve for one-time bonuses to recruit patrol officers. The FCPD recommended bonuses of $15,000 for new hires and $10,000 for lateral transfers.

• Authorize the Chief of Police to hire back retired officers that are willing to serve on patrol.
I have been asking Department of Management and Budget (DMB) for the cost of extending DROP for two years as an emergency retention tool. This is currently being successfully used in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s County to keep trained and experienced patrol officers in their departments. The good news is that based on analysis by DMB, the cost impact of providing this extension for a narrow group of officers would be $0 to negligible if it were one time and limited.

As you can see from the survey below, many of our competing jurisdictions are offering recruiting and transfer bonuses and/or housing allowances. Many are also hiring back former officers who are willing to serve on patrol. In order to attract the best officers, we need to be competitive in the area of recruiting bonuses as well. The FCPD recommended bonuses of $15,000 for new hires and $10,000 for lateral. On the cost of recruiting and housing, I have connected police department resources with Visit Fairfax to reduce the cost of recruits while they interview. I understand the department is also looking at Home Share as a way to address the cost of housing as well as the establishment of a Police Academy in our schools. These efforts, along with streamlining the recruiting process will hopefully result in increased staffing.

None of these measures will solve the problems by themselves and each has challenges but when you are in a crisis you try whatever makes sense. I have presented these measures to the Board and hope they will be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting. I look forward to updating you on developments from that discussion.

Survey of Police Departments Recruitment Bonuses
August 2022

Fairfax County Police Departments Recruitment Bonuses
• $0 housing
• $0 sign-on bonus
• $1000 housing allowance
• $10,000 entry level and lateral
District of Columbia
• $6000 housing allowance
• $20,000 sign on bonus
• $10,000 initial hiring
• $10,000 completion of Academy
• Must be repaid if quit within 2 years
Prince George’s County
• $10,000 (new recruits)
• $15,000 (experienced officers)
Arlington County
• $3,000 sign on bonus
Gaithersburg, MD
• $5,000 sign on bonus
• $10,000 Md certified bonus
University of Virginia
• $15,000 sign on bonus
• $7,500 initial hiring
• $7,500 completion of training
Virginia State Police
• $5,000 paid upon completion of school and field training
US Capital Police
• $2,000
• Matching salary for eligible laterals
Anne Arundel County
• $5,000 Sign on Bonus
Seattle, WA
• $30,000 Lateral transfers
• $7,000 new recruits
• $0 housing
• $0 sign-on bonus

Other News and Information
  • Partial Opening of I-66 Express Lanes Last Weekend
  • Become a Fairfax County Volunteer Firefighter or EMT
  • Public Tours @ Mason Observatory Every Tuesday
  • Emergency Preparedness for Caregivers Webinar (Sept 14th)
  • Virtual Zoning Overview for Residents (Sept 21st)
  • Parking Reimagined Virtual Open House (Sept 22nd)
  • Virtual Active Shooter Training (Sept 29th)
  • Fire Prevention Week and Department Open Houses @ All 39 Fire Stations (Oct 15th)