ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) — With plenty of crime and a murder rate higher than Albuquerque’s right now, the Roswell Police Department stays busy.
Officers say the city is chasing cops away by messing with their pay.
Over the last five years, the Roswell Police Officers Association (RPOA) says they have hired 78 officers, but still can’t fill out the ranks because people keep leaving.
Understaffed for years, the RPOA claims the average officer can respond to up to 30 calls per day.
“They do feel overworked and underpaid for their position when you compare it to surrounding cities,” said Michael Burkowski, RPOA vice president.
RPOA claims that over the last two years, the city has failed to live up to its side of the deal, and as a result, the police department is suffering.
Burkowski says there’s a lot of talk about the city needing more officers and doing everything they can to recruit. However, “the retention side of things never gets brought up.”
One of the issues is a market analysis. The city is supposed to compare the salaries at RPD to other police departments in southeast New Mexico, but that hasn’t been done.
“The only answer we could get from the city on why it wasn’t done is, ‘I don’t know,’ so the city hasn’t provided any reasonable explanation as to why this hasn’t occurred,” he explained.
An even bigger issue — pay. Depending on when an officer is hired, they are promised a yearly three percent salary increase.
The city confirms it has not given officers their pay increases these past two years, but wouldn’t say why.
“We did a survey recently with the officers in Roswell and one of the number one reasons they said they were looking at leaving is because they felt the city lied to them about the step increases,” Burkowski said.
Now the city and the police union are negotiating. The city is offering a three percent raise — only half of what officers say they were owed in the first place. However, it would only be a one-time increase, and there would be no market analysis to see what officers are making in other cities.
KRQE News 13 reached out to Roswell’s city manager about the contract. He issued a statement saying they are going into mediation and claims the union is spreading inaccurate information to sway public opinion.