PHOENIX – The Phoenix City Council approved by an 8 to 1 vote the granting of new Phoenix Police recruit huge pay rise to keep pace with competitive job market and make up for its shortage of officers.
This would make the Phoenix Police Department the highest paid law enforcement agency in the state.
The ministry already has around 400 vacancies and hundreds more officers are set to retire.
So how much is this increase? City officials hope a $20,000 increase in starting salary will attract more applicants and help lure more officers to the streets.
Under the plan, new police recruits would start at more than $68,000 a year. The current starting salary is just under $49,000 per year.
The police would see a 51% increase and the police chief a 56% increase.
The increases of nearly $20 million would come from the department’s existing budget.
As the nation’s fifth-largest city, supporters say the increase is needed to attract and retain officers. A recent survey showed that the old base pay scale is lower than other local departments.
“We are moving from a more complex compensation system for our police department to one that is more competitive and pays above average,” Mayor Kate Gallego said at the meeting. “We have a very complex city, our agents answer a lot of incredibly difficult calls, and for me, this investment makes sense.”
The new salary increases will take place on August 8.
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Some condemn the proposal
Phoenix advocacy groups called on the council to reject the proposal and say officers should not be rewarded with those pay increases.
Those who opposed the proposal said these funds should have been targeted to low-income and homeless populations.
“If you have to bribe the public with money to fill vacancies, they probably don’t need to exist,” said one proponent of the proposal.
It comes amid a US Justice Department investigation into allegations of excessive use of force by officers, retaliation against protesters and discriminatory practices.
“If we invest in our education, if we invest in our homes, our people protected, that creates public safety – contrary to what some people think, we don’t hate the cops, we hate the system,” one commenter said. to the city council. June 15 meeting. “We will continue to show up just to let you know that we are listening and caring about how you all vote.”
Shortage of officers
The police department has a budget of 3,125 officers, but so far the current staff is around 2,600. Police say the shortage of officers has led to the reassignment of specialist officers to the patrol and officers working compulsory overtime on their days off.
For now, the average response time for priority emergency calls is seven minutes and 21 seconds – above the standard five minutes.
“They feel overworked and probably underpaid and sadly unappreciated, so hopefully this is a step in the right direction, letting them know that they are important to the city of Phoenix,” says Ann O’Brien, member of the Phoenix City Council..
City Council will vote on the proposal at its next meeting on June 15. If approved, it will take effect Aug. 8, and raises of at least 3% for current Phoenix police employees will take effect in October.