The city of Kokomo is ramping up its recruitment efforts of police officers.
The city launched a website Wednesday and began airing a TV commercial in the Indianapolis and South Bend areas this week asking for applicants to become an officer of the Kokomo Police Department and become a “valued” part of the city.
The 30-second commercial features Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore, Kokomo Police Chief Doug Stout and a handful of other KPD officers and city Councilman Ray Collins, R-District 3.
The commercial highlights a 20% pay raise over three years KPD officers will receive starting in 2021 after the city approved a new union contract with the Fraternal Order of Police Local 78 this past summer. It also takes a jab at cities that enacted or considered policies to “defund the police.”
“We’re prepared to show you the respect you deserve as you protect the community we love,” Moore says in the commercial. “You’re welcome in Kokomo.”
The new contract puts the starting salary of first-class patrolmen at $59,444 starting next year. By 2023, that number increases to $61,846. The wage currently for the first-class patrolmen is $51,245.
The wage set in 2023 is $67,412 for specialists; $70,504 for sergeants; and $72,978 for lieutenants.
City officials told the Tribune earlier this year that they hope the pay raises keeps the city competitive with other cities across the state, especially since a new state rule went into effect last year allows police departments to hire from a 50-mile radius from city limits. The law previously only allowed departments to hire from inside the county, or from adjoining counties.
“Before we were competing with Grant, Miami, Cass, Carroll and Tipton counties,” Wes Reed, city controller, said in July. “Now, we’re up against places like Fishers, Westfield, Noblesville and Indianapolis. Obviously, we can’t compete with some of those salaries, but now we can at least be in the ballpark.”
The website – www.joinkokomopd.com – provides basic information about KPD and the city, the salaries of each rank and benefits officers receive, the hiring process, how to apply and ways for interested individuals to talk with officer Edith Forestal, who is now also serving as the police department’s recruiter.
The website and commercial is the latest push by the Moore administration in growing the numbers of officers at the city’s police department.
The city’s 2021 budget allows for 92 officers, including 49 patrol officers. Currently, the department’s officer count hovers around 80.
Whether or not the department will reach that number by the end of 2021 remains to be seen, but Moore has given the department the go-ahead to Chief Stout to try.
That push is in stark contrast to the former Greg Goodnight administration, which oversaw an overall reduction in the number of officers employed by the city during his 12-year tenure.
A message sent to the city Wednesday requesting comment was not immediately returned.