Daytona Beach officials consider signing bonuses, pay increases to fill police department vacancies

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Daytona Beach is growing, and so is its need for more police officers.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

Daytona Beach is down nearly 30 police officers right now, and city leaders warn the city can’t keep pushing forward with 28 vacancies within the police department.

Mayor Derick Henry wants the department to focus on how it can recruit more officers, but it’s also about keeping the officers already in the department.

The city is adding a new substation to address the demand. The mayor said pay incentives and pay increases may be needed to staff those spots.

Police: Suspect in custody after 2 killed, 2 injured in shooting on bus in Fort Lauderdale

The city of 72,000 welcomes close to 10 million visitors a year through its races, bike events and vacations, and it’s short 28 officers out of its sworn 242 sworn positions.

Henry offered the idea of paying a $5,000 officers who stay two years, in addition to a House bill that would give a one-time $5,000 bonus to new recruits.

“This is a conversation that’s absolutely important to have right now,” said Mike Scudiero with Coastal PBA, which represents dozens of law-enforcement agencies in Central Florida.

READ: Daytona Beach estimates Main Street pier needs $140K in repairs

Scudiero said departments are not only losing officers to retirement, but many are switching careers and going to sales and real estate where they can make more money with less stress.

He said the incentive idea will help, but that addressing pay is critical to keeping the problem from getting worse.

READ: Do you have unclaimed property? Here’s how to check

“In a nutshell, it’s pay,” Scudiero said. “We are looking at record inflation, and this is a problem that began before you started seeing the inflation.”

The union said the money to pay for pay increases is already here with the city’s explosion in growth in recent years.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.