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Hayward Police Dept. Offers Big Bonuses to Attract Recruits

HAYWARD (KPIX) -- The Hayward City Council approved a program this week to offer a hiring bonus to new police department employees as it tries to increase recruitment of officers.

"We are looking for the very best, we are looking for police officers that mirror the diversity of our city," said councilmember Mark Salinas. "This is a challenge, we manage it and we continuously work with our police department and our police chief and hopefully we can achieve that goal."

Incentives to work for the city approved by council include a $10,000 bonus for new recruits. An experienced officer who makes a lateral move from another police department would get $20,000. Both bonuses would be paid out over four years.

"The biggest challenge is not even law enforcement related, it's the cost of housing," Salinas told KPIX on Friday. "The mood about police accountability is certainly a reality that we have today."

The council members said they want diverse and bilingual officers who have cultural proficiency to join the Hayward police department. They also hope to tap local talent at nearby schools.

"People who are aspiring to become officers who are homegrown, we would love to hire Hayward students," he said. "Really make sure that, before they graduate, that they know that they have a home in Hayward and they can launch their career here in Hayward."

It's a concept that educators in the field support. Hayward not only has high schools in the community but Chabot College and Cal State East Bay, where students can pursue academic programs in criminal justice.

"Passion is in many cases what gives them a foot up in the field so they are positioned to go into these careers," said Dr. Lisa Hill, a professor at Cal State East Bay. "Once you get connected and you become a part of that community of policing and serving in the department in a community, it really takes hold."

Salinas said that city and other research groups have surveyed neighborhoods in Hayward and found that support for police remains high in the community.

"Despite the current mood, which is no doubt a reality, we still have a high level of support for our police department and our police officers here in Hayward," he said.

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