Lansing Police hopes to draw experienced officers with new lateral hiring policy

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Lansing Police

New policy expected to help LPD address staffing shortages

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (October 21, 2021) — Since he became Lansing’s police chief in June, Al Phillips has made a point of saying the Lansing Police Department needs more officers in its pipeline. With a new policy that allows LPD to incentivize officers leaving other departments to work for Lansing, he hopes to achieve that goal.

What is lateral hiring?

Lateral hiring refers to the process of a police department hiring experienced officers. The alternative — and more traditional — method is to hire up-and-coming officers that require a full slate of police academy and department training, which usually lasts seven months.

With the new policy approved by the Village Board on September 21, the Lansing Police Department is now able to hire officers from other agencies at a salary equivalent to that of an officer that has been on the job for two years. Prior to the policy, lateral hires would have started with LPD at a base salary.

Phillips said there will still be some training for lateral hires, which may vary based on their past training. Overall, he hopes the process of getting a lateral hire out on the streets will be faster than the traditional method, with the shortened process being used at times when LPD is short-staffed.

Police pay and pensions

Chief Phillips explained that the pay increase for lateral hires is what will hopefully incentivize officers to consider leaving their current department to join Lansing. The two-year pay rate that lateral hires qualify for is $73,461, nearly $12,000 more than the starting rate of $61,854.

Phillips said this pay rate is in line with other Illinois departments, but significantly higher than many nearby Indiana departments.

“Definitely, I would say that would be our target audience, is any Indiana law enforcement officers that want to come explore a better pension and a better starting salary,” Phillips said.

The LPD pension is 50% of an ending salary for officers with up to 20 years of experience. For an officer working more than 20 years, an additional 2.5% of their ending salary is added to the pension. Someone who retires after 30 years, for example, would receive 75% of their ending salary as their pension. Phillips said this pension plan is significantly better than Indiana departments’ plans.

LPD
The investigations room at the Lansing Police Department. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

The need for more hiring flexibility

The Lansing Police Department is currently short-staffed due to retirements, which is what led Phillips to prioritize implementing a lateral hiring policy. Though the LPD has sworn in 10 officers since late July, only a couple of those are out of training and able to take regular shifts. The new policy is hoped to allow new officers to start taking shifts more quickly after being hired.

Phillips explained the LPD is fully staffed at 61 officers, adding, “We’re at 57 currently, but keep in mind we have eight or nine training right now, so we’re really only at about 48 usable bodies.”

Phillips said he expects up to 10 retirements next year as well.

“I want to assure our public that the streets are being handled. We still have minimum shift requirements that we’re still able to fulfill, we just have a lot of open shifts that our officers are working. Public safety is not at risk with that, so we’re still filling all of our obligations,” he said.

Phillips said, “We want to make sure we never get this short again in our numbers,” adding that with the ability to do both lateral hiring and traditional hiring, the LPD will have more flexibility in the coming years.

Application

The application for lateral hires was opened earlier this week, and is available on the LPD’s website or by clicking this link: www.villageoflansing.org/village_departments/lateralhiring.php. For more information on the process, call Sharon Novak at 708-895-7127, or email [email protected].

The Lansing Police Department is located at 2710 170th Street.

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