FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (7News) — New relief may be on the way for the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) which is facing a staffing emergency.
A newly proposed ordinance change would give the county executive the ability to give up to $15,000 in hiring bonuses to attract new police officers to the force. The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the ordinance change on Oct. 11, 2022.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in an email, “While Fairfax County already offers highly competitive benefits and salaries, hiring incentives can be a valuable tool in attracting the best talent available. We expect this new authority to be in place for very limited positions for a limited time.”
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The hiring bonus proposal comes after several 7News on Your Side reports on the staffing emergency at FCPD.
The hiring bonus proposal also comes after 7News’ coverage of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors not addressing the staffing emergency at their August meeting which took place after the chief of police internally announced a personnel emergency.
SEE ALSO | Fairfax Co. police 'personnel emergency' goes unaddressed at Board of Supervisors meeting
7News is told there are around 190 operational vacancies at FCPD.
The staffing emergency at FCPD comes at a time when several major crimes continue to rise in Virginia’s most populous county.
READ TOO | Fairfax County police chief declares personnel emergency amid staff shortage
And while hiring bonuses might help attract new officers to FCPD, 7News is told by police union sources that nothing is on the table right now to help keep current officers from leaving.
"The Board of Supervisors have said time and time again that the county needs to address the staffing issue within FCPD. The PBA realizes that solving the current staffing crisis, which was declared by Chief Davis this fall, requires a multifaceted approach. The Board’s latest FY 2022 Carryover Review includes a consideration item which would provide police new hires up to a $15,000 signing bonus, yet they have not done anything to stop the hemorrhaging of current officers. As proposed this $2.5 million of their close to $200 million available balance to recruit new officers. This proposed $2.5 million does not include incentives for the incumbent officers. This is extremely disheartening and just reminds those officers that they are again being left behind," The Fairfax County Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) said in a statement to 7News.
“Once again, FCPD has come to the table during times of adversity,” the Fairfax County Chapter of the PBA told 7News on Sunday. “As of recent, our members have been required to work longer shifts, opportunities for advancement have been stalled, they are taking on heavier caseloads and are spending more and more time away from home. In Chairman McKay’s September 13, 2022, newsletter, he stated, 'The Board takes care of those who take care of Fairfax County residents.' Our members have continually taken care of our community members, even through the most challenging time. We are still waiting for the Board of Supervisors to keep their promise.”
At the state level, lawmakers approved pay increases for the Virginia State Police, which is what many Fairfax County Police officers would like to see from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors which has a $200 million surplus.
“Given what our police do every day, putting themselves out there on the line, they deserve a lot more pay than what they are typically given in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said State Senator Scott Surovell. “One of the things I’m hopeful about is with us raising state police pay up to a higher amount that will cause everybody else to raise their pay because it creates more competition.”
READ ALSO | New changes at Fairfax Co. Police Department will make staffing crisis worse, union says
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meets on Oct. 11 and the public safety committee meets on Oct. 4.
MORE: 'A backhanded way to defund the police': Fairfax Police fume over county budget
"I am happy we took this step to begin to address the police staffing crisis in our county and will be pushing to take additional common-sense measures to retain and attract officers,” said Supervisor Pat Herrity. “WJLA's coverage of this crisis and lack of Board action to address it clearly had a lot to do with the progress we have made to date. Public safety is a priority for our residents and our efforts and budget need to reflect that."
7News will let you know if these signing bonuses are approved and if supervisors take action on pay incentives to keep current officers.