Durham police protest pay at City Council meeting
Posted October 6, 2008 10:46 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2008 1:25 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — Durham police officers protested their pay Monday evening before the City Council. They say the department continues to lose officers to other agencies that offer higher salaries.
The average salary for a Raleigh officer is about $34,291 a year. Durham has the lowest-paid officers in the Triangle at $33,000. Average pay for Cary officers was the highest at $37,544.
"This show of force is going to bring our issue forward," said Sgt. Sheldon Perkins, with the North Carolina Sheriff-Police Alliance.
Officers gathered at the library Monday evening before walking down the streets they serve to City Hall.
"We are losing officers at an alarming rate,” Perkins said.
Officers say new hires are getting their training in Durham and then leaving for a better salary somewhere else. The officers also argue that the pay-scale they work under is broken. They say, in some cases, new hires make more than the men and women training them.
“I would have preferred they not do this,” City Manager Tom Bonfield said of the protest.
Bonfield says he does not believe the public show was necessary. City leaders are meeting with the police chief, he says, and are interested in working toward a compromise with the officers.
"What can be done about it and how much that will cost,” Bonfield said he is looking into.
However, the talks are not happening fast enough for the officers. Some many of them packed into City Hall that the fire marshal escorted most back out due to safety concerns.
"We recognize that there are always going to be certain issues, but there is a process by which we wold like to follow in,” Durham Mayor Bill Bell said.
Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan told WRAL News in May that officer shortage was a problem nationwide. Dolan's announced a plan allowing officers to make lateral transfers if they join the Raleigh police force, a move that caused friction with neighboring police departments.