KDPS aims for experienced officers with hiring incentive

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety hopes a new hiring incentive will help bring in more officers.

The incentive provides a higher wage for certified police officers joining the department with some experience.

KDPS would also provide fire and medical training because every officer in the department is trained in all three disciplines.

Chief Karianne Thomas says the department is piloting the incentive to find strong candidates with a passion for serving the community in a variety of roles.

“We still want a lot of non-traditional candidates, but we want to augment that with those with some experience,” Thomas said.

A certified officer with three years of experience would start at $59,776 a year and then see an increase to $65,891 after one year with the department.

“This is our way of saying ‘hey, we know you want to be in the profession, come work for public safety, see what this environment is like,’” Thomas said.

With the unemployment rate low and the amount of training needed for the position, it can be a challenge to find officers.

“Law enforcement is viewed differently than it has been viewed in the past, so that’s driving potential candidates away,” Thomas said. “I think the job market is such that there are so many more options that are more lucrative.”

The department will need more officers as the city grows. Thomas says about 50 officers are expected to retire over the next five years.

“We’re trying to stay ahead of the game,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, we’re successful.”

Officer Nikaela Bragole is on her third day of field training at KDPS. While she would not have qualified for the program, she says the position is a great fit for someone wanting more opportunities.

When Bragole graduated the police academy in December, was already a certified firefighter, and had worked as a paramedic in Grand Rapids.

“While working as a medic, I would run calls with police officers, and I was like ‘wow, this is really interesting to me,” Bragole said. “I wish there was a job to do all three, and I found it.”

KDPS started accepting applications on Wednesday for this incentive and will continue to do so until Jan. 31.

For more information on how to apply for this program, visit the KDPS website.