ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Alexandria Police Officer's Local 833 union has challenged the numbers put out by the City of Alexandria regarding police officer pay.
The city says they are hoping to reduce police turnover by continuing to offer a two percent base pay increase for current officers who did not receive the increase this summer after their union declined it.
Under the terms of the existing agreement, the city says a five-year deal voted on and approved by the union, and adopted April 19, 2016, under the previous administration, starting base pay was increased from $31,500 per year to $34,000.
The city says the agreement specifically noted, in Attachment A, “Police officer starting salary is $34,000. An officer is not eligible for raises until they reach the rank of corporal at which time they will receive a 5 percent raise. A raise is defined as any increase in salary granted to all employees.” Achieving the rank of corporal typically takes four years.
“In the spirit of recognizing the contribution of every officer, I offered an across-the-board pay increase for the entire department, and unfortunately the union declined,” Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall said. “Keeping pay competitive is a critical issue to help decrease turnover and to engage our officers. My offer of a one-time 2 percent increase to the base pay still stands. My hope is we can work together and find a solution so our valuable and dedicated police officers can receive this increase.”
Should the current offer be accepted, the city says the increase would start after that agreement is finalized and would not extend back to the time of the initial offer. State law prohibits retroactive pay increases, and the funds budgeted cannot be used to increase the pay or benefits of current officers.
“Just as law enforcement across the country is experiencing difficulties in both the recruitment of and retention of qualified individuals for a multitude of reasons, APD is no different and of course financial compensation is one of those reasons,” APD Chief Jerrod King explained. “As a member of the administration, I wholeheartedly support increasing the pay for all of our officers, from the newest recruit to our veteran officers who have dedicated their lives to serving this community.”
“We believe our officer pay and overall compensation package is competitive,” Mayor Hall said. “I am committed to supporting our police and fire departments while balancing the needs of the entire city.”
The City of Alexandria released these figures regarding the increases in officer pay:
Annual base pay for new officers is $34,000. In addition, the city provides a $3,000 supplement, which is half the value of the state supplement officers receive after completing a year of service. Officer’s pay increases to $40,000 in the second year, comprised of the $34,000 base pay plus $6,000 in supplemental pay from the state. With benefits, the approximate total compensation package value is $61,000 after the first year.
Kenny Rachal, the president of the Alexandria Police Officer's Local 833 Union, responded to this information with the following statement:
I would like to clarify some incorrect figures that the City Of Alexandria has released in reference to police pay.
1. Police officers do not get paid a salary of $61,000 per year as stated as a compensation package. A starting Police Officer receives $34,000 salary in which the city pays an additional $3,000 to offset the new hire’s pay since they do not receive any state supplemental pay until after they are confirmed, which is one year of service after they complete the academy, which is 17 weeks long. The city then takes that $3,000 back from the new hire once their state pay begins. Now, we are back to the $34,000 starting pay. The city pays no part of the State supplemental pay this is all paid by the state and is not guaranteed. All post-certified police officers in the state except for State Police receive state supplemental pay after they are confirmed. This is not part of the officer’s salary at which it could be partly suspended at any time.
2. The city is required by the Municipal Police Employees Retirement System to make contributions to the retirement system. The city pays a portion as well as the employee. The employee’s portion comes out of his $34,000 starting pay. Retirement contributions made by the city should not be considered when calculating a starting salary.
3. Health insurance that the city provides is also partly paid out of the $34,000 starting pay that the officer receives. Now since the contract was signed, several increases to the officers' health insurance have been implemented mostly at a 3 percent increase per year. That adds up to roughly a 12 percent increase in health insurance before the officer receives the pay step for corporal, which is five percent. Keep in mind that these new officers receive no pay increase until they reach the rank of corporal, which is four years if they pass the state civil service exam. So for the next four years, the new officers have to except any increase in health insurance benefits with no increase in pay to the $34,000 starting pay. These officers that have not received the two percent one-time pay increase as the mayor has offered does not even come close to the number of increases these younger officers have incurred on health increases.
4. That facts are simple. Alexandria Police Department use to be where everyone wanted to come work. Now, we have had several Officers leave APD to go to work at various other agencies for better pay and benefits. This is unheard of. If the mayor wants to continue to play numbers and not address the issues at hand, he might just find himself patrolling the city as more officers will continue to leave for better pay.
The police officers of APD, as well as Chief King, are committed to continuing to provide the best possible safety to the citizens of Alexandria, even under these difficult times. We hope to reach an agreement with the City of Alexandria very soon.
Stay with News Channel Five as this story continues to develop.
Copyright 2019 City of Alexandria and Alexandria Police Officer's Local 833 Union. All rights reserved.