ALAMEDA, Calif. - Police departments across the country are exploring different ways to combat staffing shortages, but even massive signing bonuses and six-figure salaries aren’t enough to entice potential recruits.
Alameda Police Department is offering new recruits a $75,000 signing bonus – the highest in the nation – on top of a $113,654 starting salary, which is more than officers make in major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.
But the department is still struggling to recruit, despite the hefty financial incentives.
Joel Aylworth, a former San Francisco police officer, explained that the recruiting crisis is the result of an extremely high cost of living in areas that need officers and more than a decade of anti-law enforcement rhetoric.
"This has been building up for over 10 years," Aylworth said on "Fox & Friends" Friday.
Law enforcement officials have told Fox News that negative rhetoric has come from both sides of the political aisle and poses concerns for law enforcement officers everywhere, from small-town departments to FBI agents.
The cost of living, however, is actively driving potential recruits away.
Alyworth told host Steve Doocy that his $200,000 salary wasn’t enough in San Francisco.
"I told my wife, ‘We will never be able to afford a home here’ because I just can't catch up," he said.
Doocy noted that California is lowering physical fitness standards and allowing non-citizens to become police officers, though this does not include illegal immigrants.
Aylworth recalled hearing his superiors warn about the hiring crisis years ago, saying the country has to get a handle on the problem.
He said Americans are no longer motivated to become police officers.
"Instead of ‘go out and catch the bad guy,’ they're being told, ‘go move the homeless,’" he explained. "And there's so much oversight at all the departments right now from complaints to the DA that they feel very restricted. Their purpose is being diminished daily."
Aylworth said many people are looking to other professions, where they can make more money and not risk their lives.
"I think there's a lot of benefits to not being a police officer, and that's why these guys aren't chomping at the bits."
Fox News' David Spunt contributed to this report.