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Calls for Coordinated Statewide Response to Recruit Next Generation of Police Officers

HARRISBURG — After sounding the alarm and meeting with police departments across Pennsylvania to address the historic shortage of sworn officers, Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that ‘hero-pay’ retention bonuses for police officers who have been working in short-staffed departments can be funded in the recently authorized state budget.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who have taken on extra shifts and worked longer hours, under the toughest conditions of their careers, to protect the public,” said AG Shapiro. “I want to thank Governor Wolf and the General Assembly for including this support, and I will continue to push until we fill the historic number of vacant positions in police departments across Pennsylvania.”

Hero-pay retention bonuses and new officer’s sign-up bonuses may be funded from the recently authorized Local Law Enforcement Support Grant Program administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). The grant program will award $135 million to local police departments to upgrade equipment, establish new units including crisis-intervention teams, retain law enforcement personnel, and recruit the next generation of police officers. In a letter to police chiefs from across the Commonwealth, Attorney General Shapiro wrote that the Office of Attorney General will help any interested police department in Pennsylvania submit an application to give officers currently serving and in good standing a $1,200 retention bonus.

Public safety staffing shortages continue to affect departments large and small across the Commonwealth. Many departments have seen applications drop dramatically over the last few years. According to the PA Municipal Police Officer’s Training Education and Training Commission (MPOETC), one-third of accredited law enforcement agencies reported 1,229 officer vacancies statewide as of the beginning of 2022. A survey of Pennsylvania’s 911 call centers from the same time shows 1 in 5 positions are unfilled with at least 350 openings statewide.

Attorney General Shapiro has consistently supported measures to address staffing shortages across the Commonwealth, and called on the General Assembly in July 2021 and again in February 2022 to authorize an innovative and immediate response to address Pennsylvania’s historic public safety staffing shortage.

“I know that money alone will not reverse the shortage of officers in our departments,” said AG Shapiro. “Being a police officer is an honorable profession and is one of the best ways to serve the public. We need a coordinated statewide response that includes recruitment programs that create new pathways to policing by introducing young people and the public to all the positive impact they can make in law enforcement and other in-need public safety careers.”

Under Attorney General Shapiro’s leadership, the Office of Attorney General will continue to advocate for additional strategies including expanding Act 89 funding to cover the cost of training cadets and a coordinated statewide recruitment effort that makes clear being a police officer is one of the most impactful ways to serve a community.

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