MINDEN, LA (KSLA) - There are signs of encouragement for Minden police officers in their fight for a pay raise.
The city hopes new incentive pay will get officers to stick around instead of leaving for other departments that offer higher salaries.
In February, Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper took his frustration to social media and the City Council.
Since November 2011, he said, he's lost 28 officers to other cities where the pay is better. Five of those were in the past three months.
"We are just a 33-man force. When you get 8 or 9 officers down, it really creates problems."
Cropper proposed an incentive program to city officials.
Last week, the mayor issued a memorandum approving those incentives.
Starting April 1st, Minden officers who have an associate degree will get an extra $100 a month.
The incentive is $150 for those who hold a bachelor's degree, $200 for a master's degree.
Officers also can get extra pay for renewing their CPR certifications or updating their criminal law training.
And the city will provide a $30 cellphone reimbursement each month.
"It's not going to solve my problems," Cropper said. "It's not going to get the salaries where I'm not going to be losing officers.
"But it at least gives the feeling that the city does care a little about them and is trying their best to make things better here."
Minden Mayor Tommy Davis explained city leaders' reasoning.
"You can't ever keep anyone from wanting to improve themselves. But we want to give some incentives to keep them here."
Cropper still hopes to get his officers better salaries.
He has proposed putting a public safety fee on utility bills or changing ad valorem taxes to help raise some money for police salaries.
"I just hope the city realizes that to keep these officers here, they are going to have to come up with some money."
Davis said the budget is tight, so the incentives are all the city can do for now.
"We all know they deserve and need a pay raise, but you can't do it without funding being there."
Right now, a Minden police officer has a starting salary of about $25,800 a year with a 2 percent raise every year.
That raise usually gets eaten up by rising insurance costs, the police chief said.