The Stanfield Police Department hopes to become a long-term workplace for officers, not just a jumping off point.

Historically, the department has struggled to keep career employees because so many new recruits transfer to another town in search of a higher salary once they receive basic training.

To avoid this cycle, the Stanfield City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night that adopts a pre-existing Oregon statute that will allow the Stanfield Police Department to be reimbursed for training costs if an officer transfers to another department within three years of training.

The law, passed in 2009, allows government agencies to recoup money lost when their employees transfer to another agency.

Stanfield City Manager Blair Larsen said each town has to approve the law for it to take effect.

“It’s a state law that give cities the option to do it,” Larsen said. “It’s not automatic.”

Larsen hopes the change will save Stanfield police a great deal of money. The 15-week state training program Stanfield sends recruits to is expensive. Larsen estimated the cost to be at least $30,000 to $40,000 per officer to attend. By passing the resolution, now, if an officer leaves to work at another agency within three years of attending the training, the new agency will be responsible for paying the Stanfield Police Department all the training costs.

Small police departments have the most to gain from this policy, Larsen said. He said the larger towns in eastern Oregon like Hermiston and Pendleton rarely have to worry about training full-time officers.

“They’re usually able to get more experienced police officers,” Larsen said.

Several small towns such as Boardman have already adopted the law. In fact, Larsen said Boardman blazed the trail for Stanfield.

“We finally kind of realized this law was here,” he said.

Boardman Police Chief Richard Stokoe said the city adopted a similar employment policy several years ago. Like Stanfield, Boardman has a small police force with a high turnover rate. Stanfield has four full-time officers, Boardman nine.

Both police departments hope the new plan will keep them afloat in case they pay for an officer’s training, and he or she leaves them.

Stokoe said Boardman police haven’t had to enforce the reimbursement law yet, but it will remain extremely helpful in the future.

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