Officers send letter to mayor and council demanding wages to be raised immediately

Published 10:28 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Selma Police Department officers have written a letter to Mayor George Evans and the Selma City Council asking for a meeting this week to discuss pay increases.

Evans read the letter at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“As you know, we didn’t get into this profession to get rich, but we would like to be compensated for the hard work that we do encounter. We put our lives on the line every day … we work strenuous hours with minimum manpower and still manage to maintain the standard of policing,” the letter reads in part.

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The letter contends that officers in cities Selma’s size or smaller receive higher wages.

“We are simply concerned that the dire importance of public safety within the city is being overlooked and underappreciated in the eyes of some,” the letter continues. “There has been a lot of discussion as to what is ‘in place’ and what is ‘in the process,’ but what we are demanding at this point is action be taken to raise our wages immediately.”

The starting hourly wage for Selma’s patrol officers in Selma is $12.90 per hour.

Most make more than that due to incentives like being on night patrol, working with the K-9 unit or having SWAT training, according to Police Chief John Brock.

The hourly wage of the highest paid patrol officer is $15.70 per hour, while the lowest make the minimum of $12.90 per hour.

After two years, patrol officers can take the sergeant’s test. The starting salary for that rank is $14.89 plus any earned incentives. The department has 10 sergeants.

The next eligible promotion is lieutenant, of which the department has seven, and captain. Johnny King was promoted to the department’s sole captain earlier this summer.

There are a total of 47 officers from the newest rookie to Chief Brock, who has advocated pay raises continually since being named chief last September.

“These officers have come to the point that something has to be done, and I don’t blame them. I don’t blame them one bit. They are looking after their families,” Brock told the council Tuesday night.

Brock said several current officers are looking at other job opportunities because they can make better pay elsewhere. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department starting salary is approximately $2 more an hour.

“They can go to other departments and make three or four or five dollars more an hour with less work,” Brock said.

The last permanent pay raises for officers was in 2007. Since then, officers as well as all city employees have received one-time pay raises of up to $1,600 in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Evans said he hopes a pay plan the city is working on will bring back step raises to officers as well as all city employees.

“(The pay plan will) make sure the salary is what it should be for the police department as well as other departments,” Evans said. “I understand their concerns. Certainly, we will meet with them and hear their concerns.”

Brock invited Public Safety Committee Chairman Michael Johnson as well as the mayor and other council members to a meeting planned for Monday. A second meeting would potentially be held after Johnson reports back to the council.