In response to a pressing need for more police officers, the city of Henderson, Nevada, is set to implement a unique initiative to rehire retired officers.
Called “Rehiring Our Heroes,” the program is designed to address the current shortage of over 50 officers by re-employing retired officers on a temporary basis for a duration of two years.
Chief of Police Hollie Chadwick explained that the program is a proactive response to staffing shortages brought on by several issues.
“Like all police agencies across the nation, we are experiencing the same staffing shortage trends due to retirements, attrition, and difficulties recruiting qualified candidates. ‘(Re)Hiring Our Heroes’ is a proactive measure for us to maintain our department standards while continuing our robust recruitment efforts to fill the more than 50 open positions,” Chadwick said.
The program aims to maintain department standards while ongoing efforts are made to fill the numerous open positions.
According to the Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 286.523, municipalities are legally permitted to rehire retired police and corrections officers to alleviate “critical labor shortages.”
Ward 2 Councilman Dan Shaw emphasized the city’s commitment to public safety, with 60%of Henderson’s general fund allocated to public safety and 75% of the new hire budget dedicated to first responders.
“We have a need for more policemen and firemen, so we are recruiting. Not only new recruits but looking at those who have had some experience in the past,” said Councilman Shaw.
Despite the recent opening of a $22.3 million police substation in September, the department has struggled to fully staff it due to the staffing shortage.
The council also unanimously voted to approve two critical labor shortage designations for Henderson police officers and corrections officers, acknowledging the impact on secondary police positions, including animal control public information officers and cold case detectives.
Police Chief Chadwick stressed that the shortage primarily affects secondary positions, and while minimum staffing levels for patrol will be maintained, ancillary assignments may remain unfilled due to the lack of personnel.
The council stressed that rehiring officers for certain positions will not require the extensive hiring and training processes associated with new recruits.
Retirees rehired under this program must have retired less than five years ago and will be required to be familiar with current Henderson police policies and procedures.
The rehired personnel will receive a baseline officer salary while retaining their retirement benefits during their employment.
Chief Chadwick also noted that the program will allow the department to bring back trained individuals who are familiar with the community and department procedures, facilitating a quicker assimilation into their roles.
The program is scheduled to commence on March 1, pending negotiations with the Henderson Police Officers Association and finalization of background standards with the Nevada Peace Officers Standards and Training.
The initial program duration is set for two years, with the possibility of extension subject to council approval.