Salisbury’s police officers are set to receive mid-year pay raises as part of a plan to improve recruitment and retention efforts in the department.
Other jurisdictions have been forced to cut or suspend police services due to resignations, and they are forced to rely on other agencies as backup, Mayor Jake Day told City Council members during a recent work session.
“We obviously don’t want that to happen here,” he said.
Beginning Dec. 18, officers will get raises starting at 4 percent and increasing to as much as 8.7 percent for anyone with nine or more years in the department, Day said. The city also plans to increase starting salaries and offer $25,000 bonuses to new recruits.
The total annual impact on the budget is $387,656, he said.
Under the plan, a cadet would see a minimum Step 1 increase to $45,960, while a sergeant in Grade 8 could see a minimum increase to $64,922 in Step 1 to a maximum of $112,700 in Step 25.
The City Council is expected to approve the raises at its meeting Monday night.
In a memo to council members, City Administrator Julia Glanz said Salisbury has lost a number of officers to the sheriff’s offices in Worcester and Wicomico counties that offer better salaries and benefits.
Additionally, Gov. Larry Hogan announced major pay raises for the Maryland State Police, she said.
“The City Administration and Police Command Team believe that offering more competitive salaries will encourage more officers to remain with the SPD and enable stronger recruitment of new officers,” she said.
Chief Barbara Duncan said roughly four officers per year resign or retire from the department.
Improving recruitment and retention of officers is part of the Trust Rebuilding Initiative drafted last year following several officer-related incidents of misconduct. Among them were thefts from the department’s evidence room that put thousands of criminal cases handled by the Salisbury Police Department over the past 23 years in jeopardy.
A recent auditor’s report has recommended broad changes in the way evidence is collected, handled and stored.
Since then, Duncan has pledged to correct problems in the evidence room and instituted other changes, including the creation of a Criminal Justice Task Force.
During last week’s work session, Duncan also told council members that the department had received a $75,000 grant from U.S. Conference of Mayors and Target Corp. to help pay the salary of a mental health professional who, along with officers, will respond to service calls involving people appearing to be mentally ill, substance abusers or homeless.