(Courtesy of the Fairbanks Police Department)Fairbanks is offering a $20,000 bonus to attract seasoned police officers to the city after the money was approved unanimously by the city council on June 19. Fairbanks Police Department is short nine officers, and it’s estimated to take four years to fill the posts with rookie recruits, who must go through police academy training.Listen nowMayor Jim Matherly told the council incentivizing lateral hires with a bonus is a faster and cheaper way to get new officers.”The cost to actually hire a brand new recruit fresh, just off the street, and send them through training — it takes about a year total — is about a $45,000 bill,” Matherly said. “And what we’re looking to do here is to cut that down by over half.“Citing a recent rash of violence in the city and the officer shortage, mayor Matherly encouraged the council to support the bonus program.”This is public safety,” Matherly said. “Overtime alone is killing that department. We need these people quick.”The council discussed the potential of an officer working just long enough to get the bonus, then leaving, and not paying it back. Council member Jerry Cleworth suggested doling out the incentive in two increments.”Why not mitigate the loss,” Cleworth said. “We’re still offering a $20,000 bonus.”Member Valerie Therrien downplayed the risk of officers taking the bonus and leaving.”If a police officer is willing to either come here from another jurisdiction or come from another branch in the state of Alaska, that they’ve made that commitment,” Therrien said.The council did approve a Cleworth amendment which sunsets the hiring bonus program in July 2018.The program also offers a $5,000 bonus to FPD officers who recruit an officer to the city from another police department.