Raleigh first responders continue fight for pay increase
Posted January 3
Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh police officers and firefighters returned to the city council Tuesday night to continue a conversation about pay that began last spring.
City Council members began work on a new budget Tuesday night and first responders are taking the opportunity to make their voices heard at a public hearing.
Last year, first responders lobbied city leaders for a pay increase and said they were disappointed. Ultimately, a 3 percent raise for all city employees was passed. At the time, firefighters and police officers were asking for a raise between 7 and 10 percent.
The City Council did commission a pay study, to be completed in spring, and Mayor Nancy McFarlane hopes that will guide their decision going forward.
"We really appreciate their patience. We're still waiting for that first report back and I think we all acknowledge that we highly value all of our first responders and want to make sure they are compensated fairly and well," she said.
First responders said the time to act is now. They said they’re losing coworkers to neighboring towns in Wake County that are paying significantly more and that is putting the city of Raleigh in danger.
“It is to open some of the eyes of the councilmen and the council people. A lot of officers who have left have not explicitly told the city where exactly they are leaving, where they are heading to. We have uncovered some of that information by tracking some of them down, so we found out where they are working now,” said President of the Raleigh Police Protective Association Det. Matt Cooper.
The Raleigh Police Department said more than 60 sworn officers left the city in 2016. A quarter of those, they said, went to work for another law enforcement agency.
"Some of them, shortly afterwards, are going to other jurisdictions, even within Wake County, and are getting paid better and better benefits," Cooper said.
Cooper said the loss of officers have compromised the Raleigh Police Department's ability to respond to civil disturbances, protests and mass casualties.
Tyler Pierce with Raleigh Firefighters United said pay is a serious issue within the fire department as well. He is a firefighter who wants to stay with the job.
"The current pay system provides a very bleak outlook for those who want to make this profession a career in Raleigh," Pierce said. "Please invest into us a fraction of what we have invested in you."