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Henderson takes action on police officer shortage

Updated November 8, 2023 - 7:42 pm

The Henderson Police Department will hire recently retired officers next year to help address critical labor shortages, thanks to a City Council decision Tuesday.

The council voted unanimously to approve two critical labor shortage designations, for Henderson police officers and corrections officers.

Police Chief Hollie Chadwick said the staff shortage affects secondary police positions, leaving vacancies open for positions such as animal control public information officers and cold case detectives.

“We won’t compromise what happens on patrol,” Chadwick said. “We have minimum staffing levels throughout the entire city to maintain that standard for Henderson. But there are ancillary assignments that maybe I don’t fill right now because I don’t have the bodies.”

The shortage of corrections officers resulted in millions in overtime pay over the past three years, multiple instances of officers going weeks without days off and multiple failures to follow department policy, according to a Review-Journal investigation.

The shortage designations allow the department to start a program to rehire recently retired Henderson police officers while it recruits and hires more officers to fill vacancies, Chadwick said.

Rehiring retirees will help address the department’s shortage more quickly because they don’t have to go through the long hiring and training process for new recruits. They can fill out the ranks while the city continues to look for long-term hires who take longer to pass through testing, background checks and training.

Because rehired personnel will need to be familiar with current Henderson police policies and procedures, the department will only rehire officers who retired less than five years ago.

To qualify for rehire, retirees must have received their first retirement benefits check and reached the age at which retirement does not incur an age penalty.

Rehired retirees will be paid a baseline officer salary but will also keep collecting their retirement benefits while on the job. Chadwick said the rehires will not take higher positions in the department away from current personnel.

“It’s a benefit to them also, but it really benefits us because we’re hiring back people that are already trained through the department, understand the policies and procedures and understand the community in the city of Henderson,” Chadwick said. “It makes it a lot easier for us to bring people back that were here and assimilated already, because they can jump right in and help us out.”

The new program will start on March 1, which gives the department time to negotiate the terms of re-employment with the Henderson Police Officers Association and finalize background standards with the Nevada Peace Officers Standards and Training.

The program will last for two years and will need council approval to last any longer than that. Chadwick said retirees will be hired for only two-year stints.

Contact Mark Credico at mcredico@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Instagram @writermark2.

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