SCRANTON, Pa. — Pennsylvania is home to nearly 1,000 law enforcement agencies, but the state faces a shortage of more than 1,200 municipal police officers. Gov. Josh Shapiro calls this one of the core areas where we need to make a critical investment.
"One of the most critical ways we can make people both feel safe and to be safe is to make sure we have more police in our communities," Gov. Shapiro said.
Shapiro spoke to cadets at the Lackawanna College Police Academy in Scranton on Thursday. He discussed his nearly $25 million plan to invest in job retention and recruitment efforts. The governor proposed a refundable tax credit for law enforcement, teachers, and nurses.
"We're saying to every new recruit, state trooper, or municipal police officer, 'When you get certified here in Pennsylvania for the first time, we will put up to $2,500 back in your pockets for at least three years,'" said the governor.
"This is a very dangerous job, and not a lot of people want to do it, so I think, especially in Pennsylvania, this incentive is going to make people look twice and actually want to become police officers," said Capt. Lindsey Dippre, a cadet at the Lackawanna College Police Academy.
Dippre believes the tax credits will help, considering many of her classmates are right out of high school.
"I know a lot of people in my class are putting themselves through the academy and having to pay for themselves, so this incentive is extra money that they may even be able to pay off the debt they have from the academy."
Scranton Police Chief Thomas Carroll also thinks this will help.
"The governor recognizes it, and there's support for law enforcement. It legitimizes our profession. We're having a problem, which we're having a problem with that nationwide right now. It's a tough environment to work in," Chief Carroll said.
The budget also proposes four new classes of Pennsylvania State Troopers, which translates to around 400 new cadets.
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