Bloomington Police Department (BPD) is now the lowest-paying police department in Monroe County, after the Indiana University Police Department raised its statewide base salary nearly $7,000 — an increase city officials worry will exacerbate the difficulty BPD already has with recruiting and retaining officers.

BPD is authorized to hire 105 full-time officers, but currently has only 89 — nine of whom are in field officer training and can't work solo patrols.

Desiree DeMolina, communications director for the city of Bloomington, says a major reason the department is understaffed is wage competition with neighboring and statewide police forces.

Bloomington PD's base wage falls behind other departments in state, county

BPD's base salary for both probationary officers and lateral transfers (officers who transfer from one department to another) already falls below many other similarly and smaller-sized metro areas and departments in the state. BPD, which serves a population of approximately 79,000 people, pays its probationary officers $63,683 a year. Lafayette, with a population of 71,216, pays its probationary officers $68,112 a year, and Columbus, at 51,552 people, pays its officers $70,000.

Across Indiana, and indeed across the country, police departments are facing a shortage of recruits. That's stiffened competition as BPD loses officers and potential recruits to well-paying cities like Carmel and Zionsville.

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