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Pay Linked to High Police Turnover, Raleigh Chief Says

Posted January 15, 2008

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— Chief Harry Dolan said Tuesday he believes a turnover problem within Raleigh's police department is largely related to pay and benefits.

"We have high turnover, and it's very difficult to retain police officers today," Dolan said, speaking before the City Council's Budget and Economic Development Committee on Tuesday.

Out of the 79 officers who left the force last year, Dolan said, 59 resigned – 17 during training, 13 to go to other law enforcement agencies and 29 for unspecified reasons.

Based on his initial assessment of the numbers, Dolan said his experience leads him to believe pay and benefits were a factor. He said it is indicative of a "crisis" law enforcement agencies across the country are facing.

The Raleigh Police Protective Association, a group that looks out for the interests of more than 400 officers, is pitching immediate educational incentives and fitness incentives for officers to deal with the issue.

It wants $1,500 per officer per year for a bachelor's degree and $750 for an associate's degree. (Currently, officers get $700 for a bachelor's degree and $350 for an associate's degree.) Officers who pass a physical fitness test would get an additional $1,000 a year. The increased benefits would cost an estimated $750,000, the RPPA said.

Dolan said he didn't think the RPPA's proposal would solve the problem.

The police department currently has more than 700 officers on a pay scale ranging from $32,000 to $62,000 for a non-ranking officer. It has 58 officer vacancies, he said.

"We have to look at a pay scale that is very competitive for this region of the country," Dolan said. "We're a growing department, and we need to fill these vacancies."

Dolan proposes comparing the pay scale to raise salaries at the lower end so that officers will be more likely to stay.

"My professional opinion is that we should compress the pay scale to make it much more attractive to officers – that they know at Year 1, Year 2, Year 3 – up to say, Year 9 – 'This is where my salary is going to be,'" he said.

Dolan also wants what he calls "lateral entry" for experienced officers moving from one law enforcement agency to the Raleigh Police Department. Although they would be new employees, the newcomers would be paid based on their years of service as officers rather than how long they have worked for Raleigh.

Dolan is expected to give the committee more detailed numbers about the issue next month.


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  • ifcdirector Jan 16, 2008

    "I'm not sure 1/2 price at Chick Fil A could be considered a bribe!! For it to be a bribe, you have to get something in return.....just what are these businesses getting in return??
    Who knows what they get in return? Favorable treatment? If nothing at all it creates an air of corruption because who knows where it ends or begins? It's best not to accept them and create the appearance of impropriety wouldn't you agree? But when you see whole groups walking out without paying that doesn't help with the public image from this member of the public's perspective. Hopefully this new chief will change that all around. A K-9 officer passed me going 80 on Glenwood and ran through the red light at the left turn to go to Fat Daddy's without lights/siren and I thought he was on an emergency call. When I turned at the light and went inside he was in line in front of me for a sandwich...... Either enforce and obey the laws or get another job doing something that you can DO and get paid for.

  • jgirl5830 Jan 16, 2008

    wcnc, I never "insisted" all police have enough money to buy toys, learn to read, I said that not all LE are living in poverty like you, and that in my opinion they are lucky to have opportunities to earn extra money for what ever.

    I totally agree with mom2two, her post says it all.

  • wcnc Jan 16, 2008

    denverbob- I never said hubby works 2 jobs....I said that he works off duty because he has to, not because he wants to and not for all of the extras the one poster insisted all cops used their money for.

    This arguement boils down to this- Some posters on these stories about cops insist (as they should) that LEO's be of the highest quality, yet they don't believe they should be paid a salary that goes along with the education, experience and quality (perfection, they want) of work that they demand. You can't have it both ways. If you want the highest quality (which you say we don't have, at these salaries), you need to be prepared to pay for it!!

  • wcnc Jan 16, 2008

    Sorry, denverbob- I LOVE my job and wouldn't change it for all the money in the world. And, I have a brain.....with the schedule of an LEO and a full time job schedule for me, we'd see each other LESS than if he works some off duty jobs. And, like I said, I want to raise my own children- I'll do a much better job than day care workers and teachers.

    Like I said, poor financial choices and/or the inability to say no to material goods you want but don't need and/or "wanting more" is what leads people to the decision to have both spouses work. Most wives spend just as much money on childcare and work related expenses as their salary!!

    Once other professions need to wear a bullet proof vest and carry a gun to work, I'll "complain" that they need a raise too.

  • Mom2two Jan 16, 2008

    (cont) Regarding the vacancies, the numbers can be misleading in any agency. Does that mean that there aren't 58 people who want the job? Not likely. It more likely means that there are 200 people who applied who can't cut the mustard. Raleigh PD, the Highway Patrol, and just about all Wake County agencies have vacancies. The problem is finding people of character to fill those jobs. I have done numerous background investigations on police applicants, and only about one of every six or seven (that actually made it to the background phase) was worth hiring. You wouldn't believe how hard it is JUST TO GET SOMEONE WHO WILL TELL THE TRUTH! It is a symptom of our society in general, not just with law enforcement. Perhaps if we all spent more time raising children of great character, instead of letting daycare and after-school care raise our children while we chase the all-mighty dollar, we might have more public servants we could count on.

  • Mom2two Jan 16, 2008

    I was a Raleigh officer for nearly 14 years before leaving to stay home with my children. My husband was an officer in a smaller agency, making less money than I was. I went back to work part-time when my youngest started kindergarten, and still do so for family reasons. Now, 9 years later, we will have our house paid for in 16 months. Is it a mansion? No, but it is a nice, comfortable house with a nice yard in a nice neighborhood. Do we own a boat?(Yes, but it is a canoe) Should police officers make more money? Of course, as should firemen, teachers, EMS workers and dispatchers (a job I could never do...WAY TOO stressfull) But many police officers, just like most of the general public want more than they can afford, and are subject to society's spend, spend, spend mantra, and take on too much debt. I have known many officers that make very good salaries, and still work a slew of off-duty jobs, because they are addicted to new cars and just generally spending money. (cont)

  • hawkydave Jan 16, 2008

    DenverBob: If the same politicians you endorse not giving any government employees raises would allow us to do something with your illegals... I would be the first one to do something about it. I would be the devils advocate in that field. But somehow I feel they have a pocket in all the illegals being here. The Judges, Governors, Senators, and President do not allow us to touch them, just like they let all the thugs and bad guys get out of jail with a slap on the wrist. Again, I wish you could just one day see things on our end of the spectrum.

  • denverbob234 Jan 16, 2008

    hawkydave, once the illegals become legal, don't you think they will be looking for jobs a cops too, at even less money. Do something about the illegals so we can all make more money and the ops can make more too. Don't do anything about them and it is going to get even worse.

  • hawkydave Jan 16, 2008

    jgirl5830: Cary, Holly Springs, Wake Forest and Depts. Like Huntersville etc... near Charlotte are the best paid in the state. I get vested in a year in Raleigh. If I leave now, I lose some benefits for retirement. I really think Chief Dolan is on to something and I believe he needs to be given a chance. Only time will tell. I have looked at and will go to another agency. I am always looking to better myself, just like anyone in the private corporations. I see change on the horizon in the Raleigh Police Dept. and I want to be here to see it. I just hope that is is not a false sense and that good happens. Do not get me wrong though, If it does not happen then I will be going elsewhere. They would leave me no choice. It may not even be in NC. Other states have better benefits and pay and the public respects them a lot more. Cary is a great Dept., but like anywhere it has it's issues as well. But It would be one on my list. Thanks

  • denverbob234 Jan 16, 2008

    wcnc, most households need 2 incomes these days. I guess you think you are special and should be able to live well on one income because your husband works for a government agency which is paid for by the same households which require 2 incomes to make it. Not over spending, just life is expensive. Get a job yourself or hubby will always be working 2 jobs. Sounds like you need a reality check. Put the kids in daycare, and get a job and then maybe you could see the hubby more since he would not have to work himself to death supporting you.