LEAGUE CITY — When the police department holds a civil service exam for new police recruits Saturday, 344 people are scheduled to take the test. Police Chief Michael Kramm is happy to see such a pool to fill the four vacant police officer slots in his department.
What has the League City chief excited though, is that 66 of those scheduled to take the exam are already certified peace officers.
“We’ve never had that many certified officers sign up ever,” Kramm said.
The chief credits the $5,000 signing bonus offered to those hired who are certified officers with three or more years of experience.
Kramm, with the backing of City Manager Mark Rohr and the City Council, introduced the program last month and did so with a bang.
Billboards across Houston, Pasadena and Brazoria County and commercials at area movie theaters touted the $5,000 signing bonus for experienced officers.
While pay for League City police officers is competitive, an officer with three or more years experience with another department starts off at the same salary scale as a fresh-faced recruit.
A League City police officer that has been with the department for three years gets a base salary of $58,677. An officer, who has his certification and with three years experience at another department who goes to work for League City starts out at $52,868 and is bumped up to $55,529 after being on the job for six months.
Once the officer has been on the job for a year, the base pay is upped to $57,677 a year. Civil Service requirements prohibit the city from paying officers a higher rate no matter how much experience he or she brings to the job.
That made it tough to recruit experienced officers. And since it costs more to train a noncertified officer, Kramm wanted a way to lure experienced officers to League City. That’s where the $5,000 bonus comes in to play.
The first $2,500 is paid after the officer completes the department’s field training program, and another $2,500 when he or she has finished a 12-month probationary period.
Kramm estimated the department could save about $46,000 per new hire when an experienced officer is hired instead of a noncertified officer. Even with a paid bonus, the savings is more than $40,000, Kramm said.
There is no guarantee that any of the 66 certified officers would test well enough to make the cut, but Kramm likes their chances.
The bonuses created another side effect, Kramm said — envy from other departments in the region.
Kramm said he has heard from other departments who were concerned they would possibly lose officers to League City. In another call, a fellow police chief wanted details of the program so that department could possibly follow League City’s lead.