EL CAJON, Calif. – The El Cajon Police Department is offering a $25,000 signing bonus to experienced officers hired by the department.

The department currently has 124 sworn officers out of 126 positions, which the El Cajon Police Officer’s Association calls “pretty rare.” 

Yet at nearly 100% fully staffed, the department is still looking to hire. City council passed the incentive unanimously, to be offered to any already sworn officers from other departments.

“In the past I believe our lateral program was $5,000 and many of the cities were offering up to $35,000. Some were offering as low as $10,000-$15,000, so we decided to fall kind of right in the middle so that we were competitive,” El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said.

Similar incentives have become more and more common as police staffing numbers have struggled nationwide. National City police recently approved a $30,000 signing bonus. In San Diego, the city approved a 10% raise for officers and $15,000 to join from another department.

El Cajon Mayor Wells believes the city will continue to attract new officers.

“Frankly, El Cajon has been a place where a lot of people want to come. We have a fairly conservative city council that’s been very pro-police and I think in some cities in California, the feeling is that they are not very well protected.”

City council also approved for El Cajon police to hire 10 extra officers, so 12 total positions are currently available.

The way the incentive will be offered is $15,000 on the officer’s third paycheck, $5,000 at one year and the last $5,000 at two years.

Sgt. Travis Howard, who is also the El Cajon POA’s Treasurer, says there’s always been a focus on staffing and recruitment, as well as a feeling of support from the El Cajon residents.

“To have that backed up not by the organization and the city that you work for, but then also the community that shows a huge outpouring of support for us, it’s just a breath of fresh air and I’m very fortunate,” Howard said.