The city will be offering $5,000 hiring incentives to new police hires who stay for at least two years, and $500 bonuses to non-management employees who refer someone who gets hired.

City commissioners on July 10 unanimously agreed to implement the incentives in an effort to remain competitive in a hiring environment that was described as a “nearly critical, highly competitive state.”

The city’s 38-officer police force is currently short four sworn officers. Wilton Manors police officers’ starting pay is $52,000. No college degree is required, according to Police Chief Paul O’Connell.

“This is not just a Wilton Manors issue or a county issue but as of May 1, Broward County had 290 open positions for sworn police officers,” Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick told the commission. “The issue really is young people do not want to go into law enforcement. The police shows, the news, everything on TV everything that the kids see in their day to day lives has basically created a stigma with going into law enforcement and especially among minorities, so people do not want to pursue a career in law enforcement. There is a real shortage of people coming up in the ranks.”

He also suggested the city explore other creative incentives. Wilton Manors currently offers new hires a $3,000 per year housing stipend if they live in the city, something Resnick suggested the city possibly increase.

Commissioner Julie Carson asked that the city explore non-traditional hiring pools as well.

“We have four positions we have to fill desperately and we need to come up with ways to do it,” Resnick said. He cautioned that departments across the county and state refrain from "cannibalizing each other with respect to trying to recruit police officers.”