Base salary for SPD agents drops to nearly $ 42,000 next week – Salisbury Post
By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY – With a 6.5% pay rise for police officers included in the 2021-22 budget and a cost of living increase to come, Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes says he’s convinced the new the department’s base salary will be competitive with neighboring markets.
Members of Salisbury City Council last week approved a $ 47 million budget for the next fiscal year that includes increases for police. Initially, the city’s budget guaranteed a 5% increase for sworn officers, which Stokes told the Post was good, but not competitive with the neighboring market. In a meeting on May 26 to discuss the budget, City Manager Lane Bailey suggested that council members include an additional 1.5% increase, rising to $ 92,000, as he expected the forces nearby order would also increase their wages to remain competitive.
Council members ultimately agreed to use nearly $ 1.5 million of surplus funds from the current fiscal year to cover increases in police and public works employees for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
Effective Thursday, July 1, the base salary for all officers will increase from $ 39,357 to $ 41,916, with another increase in effect on January 1 when all city employees receive a cost of living adjustment from 2%. After the 12-month probation period required by the city for officers, the salary would increase by 5% to $ 44,892.
To encourage new hires, the department’s compensation program also includes a 2.5% increase for bilingual candidates, a registration bonus of $ 750, bonuses of $ 5,000 for lateral transfers, an increase of 1 % per annum based on years of service and a $ 3,000 in Rowan County relocation bonus. . Additionally, educational bonuses include $ 1,000 for an associate’s degree, $ 2,000 for a bachelor’s degree and $ 2,500 for a master’s degree.
Officers will also receive a take-out vehicle if they live within 30 miles of the county, 8.5 hours of annual leave, 8.5 hours of sick leave per month, and 13 paid holidays. All officers would be eligible for the state pension system with medical benefits provided before 2012.
“It’s a very difficult hiring market for agents right now. The candidates are thin, and it’s nationwide, ”Stokes told the Post. “We are now competitive with (the surrounding agencies) with these adjustments.”
The previous compensation package also included a $ 3,000 relocation incentive, a $ 750 enrollment bonus for new hires, and up to $ 5,000 enrollment for lateral transfers. New hires were also enticed with 16 hours of annual leave, access to the town’s wellness clinic and free rides on Salisbury Transit. Access to the wellness clinic and free public transport rides remain in effect for Salisbury Police Officers.
At a city council meeting in February, Stokes said nine nearby agencies were offering higher starting salaries for officers, including Mooresville, Concord, High Point and the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office. Based on the exit interviews, Stokes said major concerns included the lack of career advancement opportunities, compression of salary scales and opportunities elsewhere to apply skills and abilities. Young staff and a low-quality pool of candidates are two other challenges facing the department.
Additionally, Stokes reported that 2020 saw the lowest number of students entering basic law enforcement training since 2016. Last year’s class produced 50% fewer students than it did. 2019, according to the NC Justice Standards Commission. The commission also estimates that there are at least 1,000 vacant positions in the North Carolina Police Department.
In an interview with the Post, Stokes noted a shortage of officers in 2017, when the department nearly resorted to the city’s interlocal agreement with surrounding law enforcement agencies for help. But the department is “still not at the point of having to appeal to the interlocal agreement,” he added.
For fiscal year 2017-18, new officers received a 15% increase, which increased base salary from $ 34,224 to $ 39,357 and then to $ 41,325 after a 12-month probation period. .
After receiving the salary increase in 2018, the ministry reported the departure of nine officers, but hired 22 additional employees. In 2020, the department lost 12 and hired four agents. The department reached the breakeven point with nine departures and nine hires in 2019.
The turnover rate was 14.5% in 2020, with the national rate set at 10.8%.
Stokes estimates that it takes up to $ 80,000 to replace each officer after taking into account salary, benefits, uniforms, equipment and training.
Stokes said recruiting officer Shaneesha Smith was able to present the new compensation package to potential recruits at the city’s annual Juneteenth celebration last week and was planning to attend the upcoming career fair. at the West End Plaza on Saturday.
The department is currently working to fill 13 vacant positions in the patrol division, but a few specialist positions are also open. This represents a vacancy rate of approximately 16%. Stokes is authorized by the city to have 83 budgeted positions filled in the department.
Currently, the department has a few candidates who look promising, the chief added.
Stokes said the greatest need right now is more patrol officers. These officers serve as first responders who answer 911 calls. With the shortage of officers right now, detectives are sometimes out of their business to help patrol.
“When we have vacancies like this, the calls may have to wait while (agents) process other emergency calls,” Stokes said.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.