CAMBRIDGE — On Monday, the City Council heard the first reading of Ordinance 1171, which would provide a city tax credit of up to $2,500 for active, certified members of the Cambridge Police Department and Rescue Fire Company. To qualify, the members would also need at least three years of experience with their departments.
In a conversation with the Banner on Thursday, Mayor Andrew Bradshaw said, “It’s important because we’re having real retention issues.” For years, the city has recruited emergency responders and trained them, only to lose them after a few years to departments elsewhere, offering better pay or benefits.
The public safety officer tax credit would be renewable for up to five years, and, if it passes after a second reading on Feb. 22, would be available to those who live in Cambridge. “We’re trying to encourage them to live here, not commute,” the mayor said.
In a statement online Saturday, Mayor Bradshaw wrote, “We’re blessed in Cambridge to have a dedicated, well-trained public safety apparatus. We need to encourage membership with these agencies by providing reasons to join our city’s police and fire departments, while also providing incentives to remain with them after time has passed. This is a first step to rebuilding our police staffing numbers, and an additional reason to volunteer and serve our neighbors in Cambridge and Dorchester County.”
The members of the two agencies qualify, he said, also because the CPD and RFC are directly and primarily funded by the City of Cambridge. In a conversation with the Banner, Cambridge Police Capt. Justin Todd said, “We are looking at different ways to recruit and retain officers here, with which we have had a huge problem. I could not be more happy with these types of things being implemented, as it is another benefit to hiring and having the officers live within the community they serve. This is the first of many steps needed to fix the issue of retention, with the pay probably being the biggest, but it’s quite a big step in the right direction.”
Also at Monday’s meeting, two resolutions were made, with one establishing a Technology Committee to be tasked with better connecting the city and its citizens through use of online and mobile technology, and the other revamping the Traffic and Safety Committee. View Ordinance 1171 at choosecambridge.com.