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Police to try hiring bonuses to address officer shortage

Hiring bonuses are the latest effort by the Minot Police Department to address persistent vacancies on its roster.

The Minot City Council on Monday approved bonuses of $1,000 for new police officers, with an additional $4,000 bonus upon completion of the eight-week, in-house training.

Funding will come from a Back the Blue grant of $102,194 received in 2023. The 2023 Legislature created the grant fund in response to hiring difficulties of law enforcement agencies across the state.

In accepting the grant, the council had approved a recruitment bonus for existing officers who successfully recruit an applicant who then is hired. A recruiting officer could receive $3,000 upon the applicant’s completion of in-house training and $2,000 upon the applicant’s completion of field training.

Police Chief John Klug said the department has not paid out any of the grant money as recruitment bonuses. Some grant money was spent as smaller, end-of-year bonuses to support and retain existing law enforcement officers.

The city has until March 31 of next year to spend the state grant, which is of some concern to Klug, who said the time frame is too short to accomplish what the state intended with the grant program. He noted hiring bonuses haven’t been shown to be a significant solution to the recruitment issues faced nationally, making it questionable whether the grant money might fully be spent by next March.

He said his department is down 14 officers from its full hiring authorization level.

The city council also approved acceptance of a donated wellness/comfort canine from Bluegrass Bernadoodles, which has donated to law enforcement agencies across the country.

A wellness/comfort canine offers animal-assisted therapy to augment other services available to officers who are dealing with law enforcement stress or exposure to trauma.

Once received, the canine will begin training toward certification in comfort therapy. The canine would be available for law officers and possibly for trauma victims during law enforcement interviews, according to the police department.

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