Long Beach police officers, as of late February, were required to sign on for mandatory overtime shifts as the department continues to deal with a staffing shortage.
Each sworn member of the department, from officers to detectives, will work one mandatory 10-hour overtime shift per month, according to a Feb. 23 memo from LBPD Chief Wally Hebeish to city management.
“Like many police agencies across the nation, the Police Department is currently experiencing a significant staffing shortage,” Hebeish wrote. “As a result, officers assigned to patrol field duties were being repeatedly forced to work extended shifts.”
The move, which already is in place, alleviates those extended shifts, Hebeish said.
Rich Chambers, president of the Long Beach Police Officers’ Association, said the move puts a strain on the department, more so for those who do not work patrol like detectives, who will have to relearn and retrain with newer technology, including body-worn cameras and vehicle computers.
However, Chambers also gave the department credit for “seeing the need for this.” Though he said it wasn’t a popular solution for officers, “they understand the need for it and this is a reasonable expectation. The community is getting their needs met and it’s not just affecting a small group of officers.”
The department and the POA had discussions, with the union given an opportunity to provide feedback, Chambers said.
“It’s just that attrition has outpaced hiring for many years in a row and this is a problem we’re seeing in our profession as a whole, across the nation,” Chambers said.
Both Hebeish and Chambers characterized the staffing shortage as “significant,” but the department did not immediately provide the number of officers currently employed by the city nor the optimal number the department believes it needs to reasonably serve the city.
City officials did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment regarding any impact the required overtime shifts might have on the department’s budget.
That 2023 budget included 664 police officer positions.
In November, the City Council approved a labor contract with the police department that included three annual pay increases and a $5,000 retention bonus, which would go into effect in fiscal year 2025, for all active, permanent, full-time employees represented by the union.
Others would also be eligible for longevity pay bonuses based on how long they’ve served within the department.
Union members who successfully refer a new police recruit or lateral – an officer with experience from another police department – would be eligible for bonuses up to $4,000, according to the contract.
However, it wasn’t immediately known what impact those incentives were having on recruitment.
Chambers said the move to required overtime was “open-ended” and that the department will have to reassess and see if they need to continue to require overtime shifts later this year.
The department recently graduated an academy class and those graduates are training, Chambers said, and “hopefully graduating another class, but between now and then, we’re not going to get those people.”
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