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Interim committee studying recruitment and retention of local and state law enforcement personnel

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Law enforcement officials from state and local governments are telling an interim Legislative committee about the issues they’re having with recruitment and retention of personnel.

The interim Government Finance Committee is studying the issue, after the Legislature passed HB 1494.

North Dakota Department of Corrections Human Resources Director Travis Engelhardt told the Committee his agency is getting fewer and fewer applicants for open positions – and some are leaving the Department for similar jobs at the county level, that have better pay.

"In our Mandan campus, where we have the Youth Correctional Center, and the Heart River Correctional Center for adult females, we do require a bachelor's degree for those front line security folks, and we start them at $20.70 per hour," Engelhardt said. "But you see the signs like I do around town - you can work for pretty much anywhere for $16, $17, $18 an hour. We're having a really difficult time to get folks to work at our facilities at the hiring rates we're offering."

Engelhardt told the Committee offering one to two percent pay raises for each year of the biennium isn’t enough to keep people.

"We really would like to ask for targeted market equity funding, to address the internal and external inequities," Engelhardt said. "And allow us to increase our hiring rates, to keep up with what others are doing, and to keep Corrections out there as a place to work. And we're really asking for meaningful annual increases, especially for high performing members, to keep pace with the market."

And Engelhardt suggested allowing performance bonuses, especially during times of tight state budgets.

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