Like many law enforcement agencies, the Utah Highway Patrol has lots of vacancies to fill as officers leave for higher-paying jobs. It also has a lot of competition. Salt Lake City recently announced plans to hire 50 additional officers for its police force. This prompted the city council in nearby Ogden to approve pay raises and extra bonuses for many of its officers as a preemptive measure to thwart departures to the larger department in Salt Lake.
Highway Patrol Col. Mike Rapich has observed what he calls a “wage war” among agencies competing for personnel. “We’re in a really aggressive recruiting effort,” he says, “probably more so than I’ve seen in the 25 years I’ve been with the agency.”
Law enforcement officials across the country say they’re struggling to fill vacancies, largely due to retirements and moves to the private sector. A national survey by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence found last year that governments are having more trouble hiring police than any other category of personnel. Agencies are scrambling to attract and retain talent, often by boosting compensation packages or ramping up recruitment, Governing reports.