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Ithaca police continue struggling with recruiting

The City of Ithaca is set to renew a significant recruitment strategy by offering a $20,000 signing bonus to attract trained officers to its police force, addressing ongoing staffing challenges. The Common Council will revisit the lateral transfer agreement, initially set in motion in November 2023, as a direct response to the department’s urgent need for experienced personnel. This incentive aims to bolster the ranks of the Ithaca Police Department (IPD), which has been described by officers as “dangerously understaffed” for several years.

The introduction of the signing bonus reflects a growing trend among law enforcement agencies nationwide to counteract severe staffing shortages. Since its inception, the IPD has welcomed three lateral transfers, with more potential recruits on the horizon. This financial incentive has proven effective in drawing skilled officers from other municipalities, signaling Ithaca’s commitment to enhancing its police department’s capabilities and experience.

Despite these efforts, the IPD continues to navigate the delicate balance between new hires and attrition, with the current active officer count standing at 44, below the optimal number for patrol divisions. The department’s strategy prioritizes attracting lateral transfers to expedite the process of integrating new officers into the community, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a strong and responsive police force amidst growing demands for public services.