Many of you are competing for the job of your dreams. With pending layoffs and many departments carrying vacancies due to the economy, it's making it all the more difficult netting the job. I wish the best for you, because we need good young men and women filling our ranks.
One thing police applicants fail to do is read the fine print — all your focus is on getting the job, and the rest will work itself out. Stop and read the fine print!
Many agencies are changing their benefits due to the economy. Some are even changing benefit packages for future hires, so if a cop tells you about how good his or her benefits may be for them, it could well be far different for you.
One of the biggest storm fronts on the human resources side is what are referred to as defined benefits plans. This is where the state or city commits to paying its employee a specific benefit for life beginning at his or her retirement. The amount of the benefit is known in advance and is usually based on factors such as age, earnings, and years of service.
Many states and cities are facing financial breaking points, and there is a push for defined benefit plan reforms. Many are looking at private contribution plans, more of a civilian cooperate model than the iconic government model.
The other is health insurance benefits and your contributions. If you have a family or are thinking about one, stop and read the plan. You could have a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). This is health-care organization of physicians, hospitals, or others providing health-care services at a reduced fee. There are limitations or restrictions. Not all are bad, but if you don't live in your jurisdiction, this could pose an issue.
Did I mention where you live? Due to shrinking tax bases, there are some larger cities that desire, if not demand, that you establish residency within your jurisdiction. This has been fought many times over, but if it's required, can you afford to live there? Look at the cost of living and affordable housing on a rookie cop's paycheck.
Your personal time is now up to all kinds of schemes. Vacation, flex time, personal days, family days, sick days and comp-time plans. When are these days awarded, how many, when can you use what day and the list of questions goes on and on.
Whether the department offers life insurance is another perk you need to check out. None of us, when we started out in the career, even wondered about this, but when families and responsibilities land on you, you should weigh all options.
The human resources side of employment is always overlooked by the eager applicant, especially if this is 'the job' or you need the job. Be a smart applicant and take advantage of the offers. These are your earned benefits.