Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Uptick in retirements casts shade on aggressive DPS hiring estimates

Another complication for the massive proposed DPS hiring boom to staff up the border was raised at a hearing yesterday, as reported in the Austin Statesman:
the recruiting effort looks to be complicated by a higher-than-normal number of troopers expected to retire over the next two years, which also will increase pressure to hire police officers from local departments as those officers’ DPS training is far shorter because they are already certified peace officers. ...

DPS Director Steve McCraw told the budget-writing committee Tuesday that hiring 250 new troopers is achievable by the fall of 2017. But he said the one big “wild card” is how many troopers will retire over the two-year budget cycle.

About 440 troopers are expected to do so, according to the Legislative Budget Board. That means DPS would have to hire 690 new officers to achieve a net gain of 250, which Otto said is not possible if the state sticks to its normal recruiting method.

Budget board analyst John Wielmaker told the committee the projected increase in retirements is due to the pay raises lawmakers gave to state law enforcement in 2013, which created an incentive for troopers who would have otherwise retired to keep working as their pension annuities are based on their final salaries. The trend has occurred in the past, he noted.

Asked by state Rep. John Raney about the link between the projected retirement wave and DPS needing to directly recruit officers from other agencies, Wielmaker told the College Station Republican that, “the agency would be very hard pressed based upon historical experience to add 690 troopers in two years without some other factors, including what you just mentioned.”
So, to the math: DPS is presently 243 troopers understaffed, wants to expand the total force by 500 beyond the current, budgeted number (250 of those coming in the 2016-17 biennium), and will lose 440 troopers to retirement in the next biennium. So the state would have to hire 933 troopers to reach its goal for the next biennium, with another 250 in the pipeline by 2019.

Regular trooper cadet classes graduate around 100 or so troopers, Steve McCraw told the House Special Committee on Emerging Law Enforcement issues last week, though the class expected to graduate in June will include only 56, bringing the number of unfilled positions down from 243 to 187. Cadet classes last 20 weeks and DPS will do three instead of two next biennium to fill these new extra slots.

For the rest, DPS has estimated it will cost $13.7 million per biennium per 40 person recruitment class for "lateral hires" poached from local police and sheriff's departments, but DPS only plans to hold six of those 8-week academies, which would bring in 240 extra, new troopers.

So where do the rest come from?


Anonymous said...

If you're just interested in getting the numbers demanded, aggressively hiring and using lateral classes is the answer. Most of the small border towns are full of potential troopers given the low pay those cities offer. Further north, Houston PD has a lot of eligible officers willing to jump ship given their pay structure and reduced pensions compared to others, either offering a hiring bonus and/or guaranteeing them a slot closer to home would probably motivate more to join. El Paso PD and other cities also have some issues the state can exploit, this being how the market works when some cities refuse to keep up. For Houston, grabbing 300 or 400 seasoned officers would also solve their budget crisis coming up later this year as they can't afford to keep those they have.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how extra Troopers are going to deal with the picture they paint (imminent apocalypse) in the border region. If the situation is as grave as they make it out to be, because 'grave' situations tend to produce more funding, then they may have overdone it and all is already lost (clearly not the case, but don't let truth and reason stand in the way).
Let's see if I have this straight: identify an area of the state where there is statistically the 'lowest' crime rate, declare it a dire emergency that it be secured due to an imminent invasion by foreign criminal hordes, triple the budget requirements, hire more people to work this statistically low-crime region, then what? To what end are we seeking? (Aside from the deeply skewed political gains.) How do we measure the success of this effort? What is the ideal scenario we hope to achieve in this region? When does it end? (We all know the answer to this: never)

Anonymous said...

Extra troopers. The Senate has lost their mind. They can't even staff the 3,500 vacant correctional officer positions that have remained unfilled since last session when they gave the troopers a 20% pay raise and the correctional officers only 5%. DPS only lost 77 troopers last year, while TDCJ lost over 6,200 officers. With the stigma placed on prison officers, the state will be lucky to hire anyone.