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Raleigh Public Safety Workers Fight for Higher Pay

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RALEIGH — Police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line everyday, but a study done by thecity of Raleighat the end of last year shows that their public safety workers are being paid less at entry level than safety workers in otherNorth Carolinacities.

"We're not going to be able to recruit and retain the best quality people unless we can offer them the best pay and benefits package," says Raleigh Police Officer Sean Woolrich.

"The longer you leave it alone, the bigger it gets," says Raleigh Police Officer Gerald Takano. "It's becoming a problem where our officers cannot get around the barrier, and are choosing to leave the departments."

The city's Budget and Economic Development Committee is considering raising salaries of employees in its two biggest departments. But police officers and firefighters say only raising salaries at the entry level is not enough.

"We don't want the be the lowest paid firefighters in the state," says Jim Parker with theProfessional Firefighters Association. "We're not asking to be the highest paid either, but we would like to strike a happy medium."

"I will say this, we can never pay them what they are actually worth," says Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer.

Fetzer says he is in favor of raising entry level salaries, but he feels salaries for higher ranking officers are already competitive.

"At some salary levels, our police and firemen are already being paid more than their counterparts in most other cities in North Carolina," Fetzer said. "So I don't know that we are going in there and rearrange every salary level."

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Joe Frieda, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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