City approves police pay raise

By BY RECARDO THOMAS STAFF REPORTER,

A plea to the city’s leaders from Indianola’s top cop, Chief Edrick Hall, has led to a much needed pay raise for the city’s law enforcement team. Hall presented a proposal to the board that would elevate his first class certified patrol officers—who have completed their probationary period—to an hourly pay rate of $15.

Addressing the mayor and alderman, Hall asserted, “I’m not asking that it be done in pieces because if we do it in pieces you’re going to piece the rest of them on out of the door. They need their money and we need to keep them here. "

With only three of the five aldermen present, the measure passed on a 2 to 1 vote with Alderman Sam Brock casting the no vote. Brock said he was not in favor of the pay raises. “I think we’re awarding too much up front and not getting nothing on the end. We paying for the training, we paying for the clothes, we paying for the riding, what do they pay for?” Brock said.

He added that if the board would consider what the officers were already receiving, then they would see that the officers are already making $15 to $16 per hour.

Brock also questioned why the matter didn’t come up during budget time. Hall responded, “During the budget time you were actually talking about cutting the officers out of the slot altogether. I wanted to give my guys money, but it just didn’t seem feasible at the time.”

Hall asserted that things are different now and something needs to be done to maintain law and order in the city. He said he has lost nine officers to other agencies within recent months.

Hall said the city goes through the expense of training and outfitting the officers, but six months to a year after they leave the academy they leave the city’s force. “It’s impossible for the community to build up the faith in the police department when we have a revolving door of officers.”

Hall implied that when the citizens have officers that they know it gives them a sense of trust and they are more likely to reach out to officers they trust. He asserted that the pay is is the primary reason for officers leaving because many of the ones who left have submitted requests to work for the city part-time.

Hall had made an appeal to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen at an earlier session requesting a pay hike to stop the exodus of his certified personnel. At the prior request of the aldermen, Hall conducted a survey of the surrounding municipalities to compare officer salaries and found that out of the 13 agencies surveyed, Indianola was the second lowest.

On Monday night, Hall again reminded the lawmakers that his department was short-staffed and of how many officers had left the department in recent months

In a memo to the mayor and board Hall wrote. “The City of Indianola is currently at the shortest staffed since my tenure as chief of police.” He said he was eight officers short and noted that six of the eight left solely for higher paying jobs and that three of the eight were in supervisory positions.

In addition to the pay hike for first class officers, Hall requested an across the board pay increase for all patrol positions. He also asked for a one per cent or $500 annual incentive that coincides with the officer’s anniversary date for those officers who maintain at least three years of continuous service. Mayor Steve Rosenthal said, “Chief, I think it’s a great idea.”

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