RALEIGH, N.C. — The city manager has approved part of a plan that would increase pay for Raleigh police officers and help turnover in the department.
The "lateral entry" portion of Chief Harry Dolan's proposal will allow experienced officers moving from another law enforcement agency to the police department to receive pay based on their years of service as an officer rather than how long they have worked for Raleigh.
That part of the plan is expected to cost $200,000 to $400,000 and will likely be implemented right away, because it does not need approval from the City Council.
Other parts of Dolan's proposal that need to go before the council include increasing entry-level pay for officers and something that Dolan calls "compression," which allows officers to get top pay earlier in their careers than they usually would.
Dolan said officers typically wait 17 years for top pay. Under his plan, they would be eligible in 7 to 9 years.
The City Council will use Dolan's plan as part of its budget process.
"All of the topics I've been talking with city managers about are expensive," Dolan said Monday to members of the Budget and Economic Development Committee.
But he believes the changes will attract new officers and help retain them.
"I'm so impressed with the men and women of the Raleigh Police Department," Dolan said. "We're fortunate to have them, and we've got to be thinking creatively and outside the box how will we make certain we're doing all that we can within the salary constraints to give them the best compensation."
The Raleigh Police Protective Association, a group that looks out for the interests of more than 400 officers, wants educational incentives for officers.
Dolan said that he is not against these types of incentives but believes they are a short-term solution that won't help the long-term problem
"What we're faced with today is a challenging, growing crisis in law enforcement throughout the country," Dolan said.
Last year, more than 10 percent of officers left the department – largely related to pay and benefits, Dolan has said. The department now has 70 officer vacancies.
In North Carolina, Raleigh police pay is competitive, but nationally, it is 5 to 10 percent below average, Dolan said.
"I think what the chief has started is great," said John Midgette, executive director of the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association. "I think the dialogue is great, but that dialogue has got to turn into real dollars – not just incentive programs that are very small benefits, but real pay incentives."