Antioch Council approves incentives for recruiting police officers from other agencies

By John Crowder

At the November 28 meeting of the Antioch City Council, the last item on the agenda was the authorization of an employee referral and recruitment signing bonus/incentives for qualified lateral police officers.

According to Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks, since the passage of Measure C was approved by voters in November 2013, Police Department staff has worked with Human Resources to hire 50 sworn officers.  During the same period, Brooks said that 35 officers have separated employment, resulting in a net gain of only fifteen sworn officers.

Brooks stated that the number of sworn staff currently sits at 97, while the City Council has authorized a staffing level of 103. With five more separations anticipated in the near future, he said, “We are having a problem trying to recruit a number of lateral applicants.”  On that point, according to the staff report submitted by Brooks to the Mayor and City Council on this item, “The recruitment of qualified lateral applicants for the position of police officer is becoming increasingly difficult, as the job market is very open and competitive. Recently, the department scheduled interviews for five lateral officers from four different agencies, and none of them showed up.  Additionally, we had two recent lateral hires (from Oakland PD) that quit and returned back to their agency in large part due to financial incentives Oakland offered for them to return.”

In 2013, with 89 sworn officers on the force, the mayor and council members promised the hiring of 22 additional officers, if the voters approved the Measure C half-cent sales tax. That would increase the force to a total of 111 sworn officers.

The only speaker to address the issue from the public was local real estate broker Mark Jordan.  “We’re kind of in a quandary here,” said Jordan, “Yes, we did have this program previously, then about a year ago we gave the police officers a very nice raise that we don’t have the money to pay for, that will be extremely difficult to pay for if Measure C is not renewed…From the general public’s perspective, this is just more and more and more…I understand they’re having a problem.  All the cities are having a problem.”

Jordan went on to say that, while he was not “100% opposed,” it might be better to provide bonuses to officers who choose to reside in Antioch.

Following Jordan’s remarks, Council Member Tony Tiscareno asked Brooks for a comparison of cost savings associated with hiring a lateral transfer as opposed to a new hire from the Police Academy.

Brooks responded, in part, by relating two examples, one a recent hire as a lateral, and the other explaining an offer made for a new hire earlier in the day.

He had addressed the idea of cost saving in the staff report, stating, “When a lateral police officer is hired, the average time it takes for him/her to begin working in a solo officer capacity is generally between two to three months.  When an entry level police trainee is hired, the average time it takes for him/her to begin working in a solo officer capacity is generally between twelve and fourteen months.”

The report continues, “The reduced amount of time it takes a lateral to become a solo officer actually amounts to a cost savings to the City. This is due to the elimination of all costs associated with the police academy, salary for the trainee while attending the police academy, and salary/benefits of the trainee during the lengthened field training program.  In some cases, this can amount to a savings of approximately $60,000.”

Following Brooks’ explanation, Tiscareno expressed that he was in favor of the program.

“I like the fact that they’re incremental payments,” he said, noting that an Officer, in order to get the full bonus, would have to be with the Antioch Police Department for three years.

“I think it makes sense, particularly when we are hiring, we’re gonna hire, we’ve been authorized to hire…I think if we do the laterals you are going to have some kind of cost savings,” Tiscareno added. “I’m very supportive of this.”

Brooks then interjected that he felt that something that a previous City Council had done to encourage recruitment of lateral officers, extending reciprocity for the “three at 50,” helped to bring in many lateral transfers since implementation of Measure C. He was referring to the retirement benefit in which an officer can retire at age 50 with 3% of their highest earned salary, multiplied by the number of years of service.

“We saw an influx of lateral officers at that time,” Brooks stated. He also referenced new pension laws that came into effect in 2013 and resulted in a “less expensive PERS system,” and that many of the officers they would be hiring would fall under that less expensive system. That includes the retirement benefit for new hires, not including laterals, of 2.5% at age 55 approved by the council in 2012.

Council Member Lori Ogorchock commented favorably about the $60,000 cost savings, and added, “plus it puts an officer on the streets a lot quicker by getting the laterals over.”

Mayor Sean Wright stated, “I’ve been very forward with my goal to get to 104 police officers, and I’ve asked the Chief quite a bit what do we need to do make that happen.”

“I like the idea…I’m in favor,” he stated.

Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe began his comments by asking, “So, we’re still (one of) the top three paid police departments in Contra Costa County?”

“Yes,” Brooks responded.

Thorpe continued by stating that an educational incentive for police officers was approved a year ago that went from $2,500 to 5% of salary.

He then stated, “When I first read this my initial reaction was, before I got to the end, was, I’m not supporting this.  But, I thought you came up with some very reasonable numbers. My own concern is that we’ve hovered at this 95 to 97 number.”

After further explaining that he wanted the public to be aware that everything possible was being done to increase the number of police officers in Antioch, Thorpe said, “I’m all for this.”

Council Member Monica Wilson remarked that she also viewed the incremental aspect of the bonus favorably. She then discussed the 3% at 50 retirement program for laterals, noting she was on the City Council when it was implemented.

“At the time, there were a lot of people in the community very unsure about it,” Wilson explained, sharing that it resulted in a lot of lateral officers being hired. She also stated that she was happy with Brooks’ involvement in hiring each officer, in order to ensure Antioch hired officers who are good and of high quality.

Thorpe made the motion to approve the Referral/Recruitment Signing Bonus, Wilson seconded it, and the motion was approved on a 5-0 vote.

Hiring Incentive Program Details

The details of the program, in the staff report, reads as follows:

Recommended Program Details for the Antioch Police Department Recruitment Bonus Incentive Guidelines (open to all lateral police officers hired after November 25, 2017):

To qualify for the bonus/incentives, the applicant must: 1. Be currently employed as a police officer within a California law enforcement agency. 2. Have two (2) years of experience and have successfully completed a probationary period. 3. Possess a Basic California POST Certificate. 4. If the applicant is a former Antioch officer who wishes to return to the department, his/her separation of employment must be at least eighteen (18) months to qualify.

The bonus/incentives will consist of the following: 1. Applicant will be allowed to carry over up to 200 hours of accrued sick leave from his/her department. 2. Prior law enforcement service seniority will be used to determine vacation accrual rate of the applicant. 3. Automatic credit of 40 hours vacation upon employment. 4. Signing bonus of $10,000 with payments in the following increments: a. $2,500 – upon employment b. $2,500 – upon successful completion of probation c. $5,000 – upon three (3) years of service 5. Any current Antioch employee who recruits a lateral officer will receive his/her choice of $1,000 or 20 hours of Comp Time upon the lateral’s successful completion of the field training program.

The next Antioch Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, located at 200 H Street. The meeting can also be viewed on local cable access Channel 24 or via livestream on the City’s website at

One Comment to “Antioch Council approves incentives for recruiting police officers from other agencies”

  1. Renee Sparks says:

    Mr. Brooks, THANK YOU! I really wasn’t in favor of promoting from within the police department. I was sure we in Antioch weren’t going to see anything changed. But look at you Go! I’m so impressed and happy that you’re fighting to make our City better. Your fresh eyes and your clear approach to how you treat everyone is so refreshing.
    Thank you for making a difference. I can honestly say now that I have hope for our City. I know that once you get enough officers Antioch Police will finally get a chance to be proactive. I’ve been waiting a long time for a change like this.

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