Opinion / Editorial: Investment needed in public safety | Editorial

These and other circumstances can affect the quality of police services. Krizek cited fewer trained staff, longer shifts and canceled days off, leading to higher overtime costs, burnout, mental health issues and errors in judgment.

Having a healthier, stronger state police force is part of our recovery from this pandemic. With the help of federal funding from the US Rescue Plan, Northam and the General Assembly recently committed $ 20 million to the department for this year.

According to the text of House Bill 7001, the money will solve the compensation problems by granting one-off bonuses to sworn officers ($ 5,000), compression bonuses (2% to 8% of salary) for veteran officers qualified, enrollment / recruiting bonuses ($ 5,000) for new soldiers and retention bonuses as needed. The money can also be used for relocation costs (up to $ 2,000).

We hope that this help – and this change in policy – will have an immediate impact on law enforcement personnel. But concerns addressed by state lawmakers cannot be resolved with one-time federal dollars alone. The Commonwealth needs a long-term plan that will ensure the stability of state policing for years to come.

In another step, a second tranche of $ 20 million will be placed in the first year of the next budget (2022-24) to implement a state police compensation plan that addresses the issues recruitment, retention and compression. The roadmap to this vision will include a task force that will report to state officials by October.

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