(Photo courtesy of Fremont Police Department)

The city of Fremont and the Fremont Police Association have jointly established a new recruiting incentive program that features a $10,000 total signing bonus for newly hired entry-level, academy graduate and lateral police officers.

They said the bonus is structured so that new officers get $5,000 when they are hired and another $5,000 after they successfully complete probation.

The program also rewards current employees for referring candidates who ultimately take jobs with the Fremont Police Department by offering a $1,500 total referral bonus, with employees getting $750 when a candidate is hired and $750 after the candidate successfully completes probation.

Fremont police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques said recruitment is both a citywide priority and the personal objective of Fremont police Chief Kimberly Petersen at a time when departments across the country are having a hard time hiring enough officers.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average number of full-time U.S. police officers in 2016 was 11 percent lower than the number in 1997.

Bosques said, “It’s a highly challenging job market” but Fremont hopes that the bonus program will help it hire 18 more officers this year.

Fremont’s challenges won’t end even if it hires all of those new officers because the department regularly loses officers through attrition, so Petersen will seek funds to hire more officers next year, Bosques said.

She said the Fremont Police Department is still getting job applicants who are qualified, but she said the problem is that it is getting fewer applicants than in previous years.

Some other police departments in the Bay Area also are offering bonuses to lure new officers, but Bosques said “not many” are doing so.

She said other recruitment initiatives include streamlining and accelerating the hiring process and a newly launched recruitment microsite that offers job candidates a front-row view into the Police Department’s culture, available career growth opportunities, a conversation with the chief and other features.

The city of Fremont has hired the Hoffman Agency public relations firm with its recruitment efforts because the city has had success in using the firm for its Economic Development Department, according to Bosques. She said the city “needed to find something new” and selected the Hoffman Agency in part because of its expertise in developing marketing materials.

The city said the Police Department currently has vacancies for officers, dispatchers and other positions.

People who want to learn about the vacant positions can visit https://jobs.fremontpolice.gov.