Local News

Fayetteville Police Do Double Duty to Make Ends Meet

Posted May 15, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Police officers are paid to put their own lives on the line every day to protect ours. But some Fayetteville officers say their pay is so low they cannot even make ends meet. Hundreds of officers are expected to attend a council meeting Monday night to voice their concerns.

An entry-level officer at the Fayetteville Police Department makes just over $22,000 a year. Even veteran officers here are making well below what their peers in other cities make.

Ron Kirby is a 10-year employee of the Fayetteville Police Department. He is a property crimes investigator during the day. To make ends meet, he provides security at this local strip mall three nights a week.

"All we are looking for is a competitive pay raise and to know we are appreciated for the work we do and paid for the skill level we do," Kirby says.

Fayetteville Police salaries are among the lowest in the state's biggest cities. The department has lost 13 officers since January who say they left because of low pay.

Chief Ron Hansen feels the loss. "You get to the point where they are about to be a producer and they are gone, it's very tough."

Hansen says overtime fills the slots on the streets, but "the issue is that younger officers because of their experience, don't have the street smarts."

City Manager Roger Stancil says the turnover rate is high in all city departments. Although raises are his top priority, he cannot single police officers out in the upcoming budget.

"We have to make sure we are recognizing the value of every city employee, that's what we are trying to do," Stancil says.

Police would like to see a long-term compensation plan passed so they know how much they would make in five or 10 years.

The city is working on a professional development plan that would include a pay schedule, but it will not be ready for this year's budget.

Both Raleigh and Durham pay their entry-level officers more than Fayetteville does. Fayetteville officers start at $22,800 a year. In Raleigh, the rookies earn $24,300. And in Durham, new officers start at $26,400 dollars.

Between teachers, police officers and firefighters, where should the money go first?

More than half of the people who answeredWRAL OnLine's Hot Button Pollsay they would raise the salaries for teachers first. About 36 percent gave police officers the nod. Ten percent of the people who responded said they would raise the pay for firefighters first.