Smithfield approves police sign-on bonuses

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Smithfield’s Town Council voted unanimously on Oct. 5 to authorize its police department to offer sign-on bonuses to new sworn personnel.

The department plans to offer $2,500 to untrained recruits and $5,000 to lateral transfers from other police departments who are already certified.

The $2,500 bonus for untrained recruits would be paid in two installments — $1,000 after successful completion of the police academy and a $1,500 payment after completion of the SPD’s field training program. The $5,000 for certified officers would be a one-time payment made in full after their successful completion of the field training program.

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To be eligible for either sign-on bonus, new officers would be required to sign a contract obligating them to remain with Smithfield’s Police Department for at least two years.

Should an officer who receives a bonus leave before his or her two-year term is up, repayment of the bonus would be prorated based on their length of service to the town.

According to Deputy Chief Chris Meier, the SPD has fluctuated between two to four vacancies for officers over the past two years. The department is allotted 22 sworn officers.

The sign-on bonuses were previously discussed at a meeting of the Town Council’s Public Safety Committee on Sept. 27. According to the recorded minutes for that meeting, Councilman Randy Pack expressed concerns that current officers might feel slighted by the bonuses for new hires, but Meier said some officers have been working 12-hour shifts and would be grateful for the relief afforded by new hires. Town Manager Michael Stallings said due to extended vacancies in the department, there are considerable savings in payroll that can be used to pay out these bonuses.