Arizona Highway Patrol Association asks DPS for pay raise for DPS workers

PHOENIX - In some cases, Arizona Department of Public Safety workers are making $10,000 a year or more less than their counterparts at other agencies.

According to a DPS 2013 pay study, an entry level cadet officer at DPS makes just over $38,000 a year. An Apache Junction officer makes about $41,000 and a Chandler officer pulls in close to $52,000.

A spokesperson for the union that represents DPS workers said the large difference in salary makes it difficult to keep qualified workers from joining other departments.

"It's just a little troubling when we're designated as the state police agency for Arizona and we can't keep people," said Jimmy Chavez , president of the Arizona Highway Patrol Association.

The group speaks out at the state capitol on behalf of DPS workers.

"What we're looking for is just to remain competitive within the marketplace," said Chavez.

He said officers haven't gotten a pay raise since the recession hit in 2008 and that civilian employees haven't had a raise in almost a decade.

"It makes our job a little harder to do," said Chavez.

He said it's tough to keep morale up when you know your buddy at another agency is making way more than you are.

"We're not asking to be the number one, top paid agency in the state," he said.

However, the union is asking the state for $38 million over a three year period to pay DPS employees more competitively.

"At DPS we're still in recovery mode," said Bart Graves, spokesman for DPS.

Graves said the agency is still digging out of the recession and that the state has agreed to give it money for some equipment needs, which is a start.

"A good half a million dollars, So I think that's going to buy something like 160 new vehicles this year, 175 next year," said Graves.

ABC15 News reached out to Governor Brewer's office to find out why a pay raise for DPS workers wasn't included in this year's proposed budget.  Her office has yet to respond.

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