MONTEREY PARK — Want a day off work? If you're a police officer, simply recruit a new colleague.
As an incentive to police officers to attract high-caliber colleagues, the City Council last week voted to give officers a day off work each time they bring in an officer applicant who is hired.
The concept isn't new: Capt. Daniel Cross said he knows of several cities that reward police officer recruiters with cash.
In Anaheim, for instance, any full-time city employee who successfully recruits an officer receives $250 upon hiring of the officer and another $250 after the recruit passes a one-year probationary period, Investigator Rick Martinez said.
Monterey Park's plan "is a way of rewarding them without spending money and burdening the taxpayer," Cross said.
The recruitment incentive program comes as Monterey Park is recovering from a rash of defections that at one point left six positions vacant out of the department's authorized strength of 74 officers.
Much of the dissension was blamed on former Chief Kenneth Hickman, who resigned in March after a unanimous vote of no-confidence from the Police Officers Assn. He was replaced by Chief Robert W. Collins.
After Hickman's departure, city officials took steps to improve morale and retention in the department. One of those measures was to put patrol officers on a 12 1/2-hour, three-day work week designed to cut down on overtime and reduce officers' commute time.
The department also began testing applicants more frequently--monthly instead of semiannually. Under the old system, Cross said, Monterey Park ran the risk of losing qualified applicants who went to other cities rather than waiting for the next test.
The extra efforts have paid off, Cross said, adding that the more potential recruits that pour in, the more selective the department can be.
"We probably have more people applying now than we have in the past," he said. "It was real bad last year. It was a very big problem because the spot would stay vacant for some time."