Numerous things have made that more difficult in recent years: the increased scrutiny police are under nationwide, the increased danger they are facing (officers killed by firearms so far this year are up 47 percent compared to this date last year), and issues of morale and pay.
As I wrote here earlier this year, we have eliminated more than 100 law enforcement and 100 non-sworn positions to stay within our budget. Despite these efforts to ensure police are not taking an outsize portion of the City budget, it appears the police department is slated to receive the lowest raises of any City services over the next three years.
In the City’s Five-Year Citywide Business Plan, which Council Members are set to vote on Thursday, employees of all other City services are slated to receive raises ranging from 2.5 to 4.7 percent each of the next three years. During that time, KCPD members are only set to receive 2 percent raises each year. The members of our department deserve equal pay treatment with the employees of other City services. The Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners adopted a resolution stating the need for this parity in 2011.
The Olathe, Kansas, Police Department conducted a police compensation analysis in May of this year, comparing the salaries and benefits of area public safety departments. That showed KCPD officers had the highest starting salary in the metro area, but we fell to 10th place out of the 12 agencies compared for officers who had reached their top pay step.
In an urban environment with high workloads, significant violent crime and intensive scrutiny, it can be difficult enough to retain high-quality officers and non-sworn staff. A financial plan that does not value police employees as much as employees of other City services has the potential to negatively impact police morale and employee retention.
To continue to serve our city with the highest-quality employees, I support KCPD members receiving annual salary increases on par with those in City services.
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