HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Police departments across Connecticut are looking for officers. Recruitment and retention continue to be a problem, especially in cities like Hartford.

Now, Hartford is taking extra steps to ensure its officers stick around.

Hartford’s City Council voted this week to approve a new police contract to make sure their officers are paid well and supported, knowing the challenges right now for this department and many others to recruit officers.

It’s a nationwide issue as police departments are down officers, and with fewer recruits, Connecticut police departments find themselves competing to fill their ranks.

“You look across the county, and the entire state, everybody is trying to recruit police officers, as are we,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.

Recruiting concerns prompted the passage of a new 4-year police contract in Hartford with the intention that it gives officers a reason to stay.

“If we will be successful in that, we need to make sure we stay competitive, and this contract is about making sure we provide competitive wages and benefits to our officers,” Bronin said.

Benefits of the new police contract include wage increases of 1.5% on January 1, 2023, followed by a 2.5% increase in 2023-2024, a 3% increase in 2024-2025, and another 3% increase in 2025-2026.

Detectives will now be paid a uniform base salary of $86,000, sergeants will be paid approximately $91,000, lieutenants will be paid $104,000, and $116,000 for captains.

Bronin is stating that the city will not defund the police department.

“We continue to invest and grow our police department year over year over year,” Bronin said. “It’s vital to our entire community.”

Hartford police officer and Union President Anthony Rinaldi told News 8 some retention issues are associated with pay and benefits, but he’s more concerned about the negative attitude towards police he sees in the city and by some city council members.

In a statement, Rinaldi said in part, “The anti-police climate had decimated our department as we struggle to retain newer officers. The anti-police climate has also made recruiting nearly impossible. [Until] this climate changes and police get respect back, our large city departments, along with smaller city departments, will continue to struggle.”

The city’s police union approved the new contract in September, supporting the new benefits for officers.

Council President Maly Rosado said that she is proud of the resolution.

“Our police officers go out every day to help protect our city,” she said in a written statement to News 8. “The council body had a lively discussion about this agreement, and we will continue to work together as a body to support our police force, improve community-police relations and build on transparent communication, and do the important work of upholding public safety.”