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Vancouver police chief says $10K signing bonus campaign a success

Adam Palmer: "Right now, we haven't put an end date on [the campaign] because it's been so successful, and we're getting really impressive people applying from all over the country.”
Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer says the department has already spent $200,000 on signing bonuses to hire 20 experienced officers from other Canadian police forces.

The Vancouver Police Department’s campaign to hire 20 officers from other Canadian police forces and offer each of them a $10,000 signing bonus has been a success and will continue for the foreseeable future.

Police Chief Adam Palmer said the officers have left departments in Alberta, Ontario and the Maritimes to join the VPD, which is currently on a recruiting drive to hire a mix of new recruits and experienced cops.

Some officers from the Surrey Police Service have also joined.

“Right now, we haven't put an end date on [the campaign] because it's been so successful, and we're getting really impressive people applying from all over the country,” Palmer told Glacier Media.

The VPD launched the campaign in January, unlocking $200,000 from its budget to lure 20 experienced officers to Vancouver. The chief didn’t say how much more money the department plans to spend on signing bonuses, but said it will be well spent.

The $10,000 helps officers with moving costs and is a sum that is less than what the department spends on training a new recruit, said Palmer, noting each experienced officer takes a brief transition course before being deployed.

“You're getting somebody that has got all the training and experience and we can put them right on the street,” he said. “So we still are hiring lots of recruits, filling all our classes [at the police academy]. But we need experienced officers as well to keep our numbers where we want them to be.”

Police Chief Adam Palmer posted this photograph March 5 on his X social media account of himself with recently hired experienced officers.

'Not creative at all'

When the VPD launched the campaign in January, it was criticized by Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association and the International Council of Police Representative Associations.

He used his account on the X social media platform to pan the campaign.

“This is stupid and a slap in the face of existing officers…creates entitlement on one hand and inequity on the other,” wrote Stamatakis, the former president of the Vancouver Police Union.

“Not creative at all, potentially attracts wrong kind of person…look at assisting potential new employees with relocation/moving exp sure, but ‘bonus’…”

He ended his post with a hand-in-head emoji.

'Let's give it a shot'

Reminded of Stamatakis’ view, Palmer said “anything you do in policing is going to be controversial — that goes with the territory.” But other agencies in Canada and the United States have had success with the financial incentive, he said.

“So we thought, ‘Let's give it a shot,’” said the chief, noting how expensive it is to live in Vancouver. “It is a lot to relocate to Vancouver. It's the most expensive city in the country. So we wanted to try it and help defray some of those costs, and it's worked out really well.”

Ralph Kaisers, the Vancouver Police Union’s current president, has declined to comment on the campaign.

The chief told the Vancouver Police Board in February that since the beginning of the year a total of 63 officers, including new recruits and experienced cops, were either in training or set to go on the road.

More than 100 officers were hired in 2023.

“Our application numbers are exceeding expectations,” he said at the Feb. 29 meeting. “So while you’re seeing troubles in other agencies around North America in recruiting, our numbers are way up.”

$122K salary

Vancouver officers recently ratified a new collective agreement that effectively makes the 1,400-plus members the highest paid in Canada. Officers will receive pay raises of 4.5 per cent retroactive to 2023 and another 4.5 per cent in 2024.

A constable with five years on the job can expect to earn $116,000 in the first year of the new contract and see that salary increase to almost $122,000 in 2024, according to information supplied to Glacier Media from the Vancouver Police Union.

The VPD is operating with a $412-million budget this year.

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