Alaska bonuses join Florida’s offerings to entice Illinois police recruitment

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(The Center Square) – Efforts to recruit police officers from Illinois to other states continue, but a Chicago police representative says there are things Illinois should do to keep them.

While Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently approved a measure allowing non-citizens on work permits or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to apply to be police officers in the Land of Lincoln, other states like Florida and Alaska are offering thousands of dollars in recruitment bonuses.

Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office announced that the Sunshine State has now recruited 47 law enforcement officers from Illinois, offering $5,000 bonuses to relocate. In September, that number from Illinois was 37.

Of those officers from Illinois, three have moved to Florida following billboards placed in Illinois, “encouraging officers to make the move to a state that consistently backs the blue,” DeSantis’ office said.

“With a national lack of support for the important work law enforcement officers do daily, Florida has stood up for what is right,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Our back the blue policies have brought officers from all 50 states and two U.S. territories to Florida. We will continue to support law and order and make investments in the people that keep our communities safe.”

Jurisdictions in Alaska are offering up to $30,000 bonuses for lateral hires and $15,000 bonuses for new recruits. Fairbanks, Alaska, has a lateral recruitment effort with $60,000 in bonuses.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President John Catanzara said both these states have other incentives.

“A state with no state [income] tax and a whole lot of other perks,” Catanzara told The Center Square. “Everybody is having recruitment issues. Everybody is doing everything they can. And I consider it flattering that they want to come and steal the best and brightest officers and well-trained officers in the country from Chicago.”

Retention bonuses from Chicago are important, he said.

“Explain to them the necessity of an incentive bonus for retention and try to give the 20-year veteran officers a reason to stay a little bit longer,” Catanzara said.

There are other things Catanzara said Illinois and Chicago should do.

“Address the mandatory retirement age at 63 and make it equal to whatever the Medicare age is so officers can go straight there without having to worry about paying for health care when they retire,” Catanzara said.

Beyond that, Catanzara said curbing anti-police policies can go a long way.

“Until the climate of anti-police profession kind of dissipates, I don’t know how long. Everybody kind of expects that to last several, five more years, so it’s not going away anytime soon,” he said.

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