After hiring 21 officers this year, the Bellevue Police Department has no openings for commissioned officers. It’s the first time in more than eight years that the police department has been fully staffed for officers.
Police departments across the Eastside have dealt with a hole left by a retiring Baby Boomer generation and others exiting police positions, given the current national narrative on policing, police said. The department attributed the success in hiring this year to an increased bonus for lateral officers transferring in from other departments.
Late last year the city council voted to increase the bonus — for those with three or more years of experience transferring from another department — to $16,000. Additionally, the Bellevue PD increased recruiting staff, background investigators and trainers.
Bellevue PD targets laterals because they’ve already completed their academy training and have a quicker process for getting trained on Washington laws and out on the street, PD spokesperson Meeghan Black said.
In 2018, the department received 27 lateral applications. After the increased bonus, the number grew to 133 applications during the first six months of 2019. The department hired 16 lateral officers in 2019. One of those hired officers had transferred from a state police department, while the remaining 15 were from out of state.
“The (bonus) allowed lateral officers to say ‘With that I can pick my family up and move them. I can come to Bellevue and that’s going to help me make that transition,’” Black said. “It got them looking at Bellevue, and once we got their attention … the sell was pretty easy.”
Black declined to provide a list of the names and past departments of the incoming officers. A public records request for the information was submitted by Reporter staff and is pending with the department.