SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - City leaders are faced with a question: How to keep trained and veteran officers from leaving the police department for better pay elsewhere. "We have to look at like a business, we have to be competitive," said City Council Member, Bryan Wooley during a July 29th city council meeting.
Wooley has a plan for a pay raise that would increase officer's pay by 9 percent, using the difference in the amount of dollars the state mandates the city put into police retirement. "That percentage has dropped it was 13.75, now as of July 1st it's down to 9.5, so now 1.1 million dollars is freed up," said Wooley. The money is only freed up in theory. "Do we issue a raise based on the fact we have money in this year's budget but not available in the following year's budget," Mayor Cedric Glover told council members during the July 29th meeting when the proposal was announced.
Glover didn't appear so free with the funding. "When you factor in the increase in fuel expense that year," said Glover. But that's a position some city council members don't buy. "The fuel cost didn't come up until later, the money was already there," said City Council Member Joyce Bowman, who supports Wooley. "They can find money for anything else, they can find money for that," says Bowman.
Wooley believes the attrition rate of SPD has reached a critical stage. "I have officers telling me their response times are getting slower as a department because there are less of them covering more area," says Wooley.
Everyone agrees a raise is needed, but it appears there is a difference in opinion on where the money should come from.