The Birmingham Police Department (BPD) announced Monday that it will offer new recruits $5,000.

According to reports, BPD leaders have been working to institute the bonus for several months to be more competitive in the hiring process against other police departments and professions. 

BPD is stationed in the center of over 30 municipalities in the Birmingham area. BPD must compete not only with other police departments and sheriff’s offices but also with other professions. Law enforcement faces an unprecedented national staffing shortage, with fewer people seeking to become police officers.

This hiring incentive comes at a time when crime around the country is on the rise, and crime in Birmingham is skyrocketing. 

According to Neighborhood Scout, Birmingham is among the most dangerous cities in the United States, only safer than 1% of other U.S. cities. Birmingham has a violent crime rate of 16.61 per 1,000 residents. 

Someone's chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in Birmingham is one in 60. In Alabama, these chances are one in 225.

Ensley, South Pratt, West End, West Princeton, Jones Valley, Fountain Heights, City Center, Avondale, Collegeville, East Birmingham, South Woodlawn, Wahouma and Oak Ridge Park are among the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city.

The growth in violent crime has led to a rapid decline in Birmingham's population since the 1960s. Birmingham is no longer the largest city in Alabama, with Montgomery and Hunstville taking the lead.

In September, the Gwinnett County Police Department (GCPD) of the Atlanta metro area held a hiring event in Birmingham, potentially due to their ability to out-bid Birmingham-area police salaries in the face of the national police shortage.

According to Zippa.com, Alabama has the second-lowest average police officer salary in the country at $31,858. The only state where police officers make less, on average, is Mississippi at $30,822.

The GCPD offers a $4,700 hiring incentive to its new recruits and posted salaries of $47,284 for new hires with a high school diploma (or GED), $48,703 for new hires with an associate's degree and $50,121 for new hires with a bachelor's degree.

According to the BPD website, recruits with a high school diploma or GED receive a salary of $38,729.60. Recruits with an associate's degree receive a salary of $40,664, and recruits with a bachelor's degree receive a salary of $42,702.40.

BPD Police Chief Scott Thurmond told the press that there are several openings and that, along with the sign-on bonus, there are ample opportunities for advancement.

BPD hires officers as young as 19. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, have a high school diploma or GED, a valid Alabama driver’s license and no prior felony convictions. They must also pass a Class A physical examination. 

According to the BPD Facebook page, the next agility test will be on January 7, 2023. The next police academy class will begin on February 14, 2023.

Eager applicants can visit the Police Academy at 401 6th Ave S to talk to BPD recruiters.  

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