ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Could a pay hike be part of the solution for Albuquerque’s troubled police department?
Some say “yes,” including one city councilor who called for a study of police officer pay. Don Harris says with increased pressure on APD to improve its ways, keeping experienced officers well-paid and on the force is crucial.
Overworked, under appreciated and underpaid. Those are three words Paul Broome, chief negotiator with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association describes APD’s current climate.
“Officers ask me and ask themselves and ask the union constantly, ‘does anyone actually understand what’s happening out here?’ ”
Broome says being an APD cop these days isn’t easy. Besides all the negative publicity surrounding the department, there’s also the issue of pay.
“Our numbers are down about 16, 17 percent over our goal of 1,100 officers and we wanted to see if compensation was a factor in that,” Harris said. “It looks like it probably is.”
A new pay study, which Harris helped roll out, shows senior officers in APD are paid significantly less than their peers both in and out of state.
Harris and Broome say it effects recruitment and retention.
“Especially in light of all the expectations that we’re going to have on these police officers with the Department of Justice (report), I think we need experienced police officers to stick around,” Harris said.
“We are actually low when it comes to experienced officers,” Broome added. “That’s where we’ve run into problems. The morale is very low and it’s not just because of pay, it’s because of this current DOJ situation.”
The Department of Justice report released last month slammed the department on all kinds of issues, from use of force to accountability.
City leaders are now working on ways to address the DOJ’s findings.
While we wait on those, both Broome and Harris agree a pay bump can spark change quickly.
“We want a safe city and we want officers who are really going to be knowledgeable and experienced and are going to be able to do everything expected from them,” Harris said.
City councilors are expected to discuss the police salary findings at a finance committee meeting Tuesday. No one from the mayor’s office was available to comment on the pay study this weekend.
The report did show a couple of good things. APD’s benefit package stands out from the competition, as well as their starting pay for officers.