Police Finding It Hard to Fill Jobs; Forces Use Perks & Alter Standards

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By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Police departments around the country are contending with a shortage of officers and trying to lure new applicants with signing bonuses, eased standards, house down payments and extra vacation time.

From this seaside Southern California city to Washington's suburbs, more than 80 percent of the nation's 17,000 law enforcement agencies, big and small, have vacancies that many can't fill, police officials estimate.

"I was just at a conference of police chiefs," said William Bratton, the chief of police in Los Angeles, which has 720 openings. "It was all everybody was talking about."

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