PHOENIX — A new plan presented to the Phoenix Mayor and City Council for approval would make Phoenix Police Department salaries competitive with other public safety agencies in the market with a goal of officer retention and to aid recruitment efforts.
The Phoenix Police Department and city councilors are not commenting on the proposal until it goes up to a vote, slated to happen at the next Phoenix City Council meeting on June 15.
Mayor Kate Gallego spoke one-on-one with ABC15 about the proposed pay increase. She said, "The Phoenix City Council and I are going to vote on a more competitive pay structure for our Phoenix Police officers."
"When I talked to private sector employers, they are also going to be more competitive and how they compensate their employees. I'm glad the city of Phoenix is joining so many employers in Phoenix in offering competitive salaries."
The potential pay increase comes during the department's shortage of officers.
"We have a staffing crisis," said Lt. Ben Leuschner, president of the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association. "We have, last numbers I checked, about 20 officers leave the department every single month and that's been going on steadily. And that's the net loss. And we haven't been able to hire."
Lt. Leuschner said this is a step in the right direction.
"What was found by the city was that we are underpaid by a little bit compared to other departments," he said. "But quite honestly, if you look at the workload of Phoenix Police officers, they're the most overworked police officers in the state of Arizona just because the nature of the calls for service that we have."
The city says the proposed compensation restructure would allow recruits to start at a higher rate. $68,661 instead of the current $48,942.
The current police recruit salaries are approximately 7% below the market average, according to the city. They say the plan would bring salary ranges approximately 10% higher than any other law enforcement agency in the state.
With this potential change, Phoenix Police officers and recruits will be some of the highest paid in the state.
"We are the big city in Maricopa County," said Gallego. "We respond to a huge variety of calls and have some of the most advanced technology. Our pay needs to match this."
So, who pays for the proposed pay increase? The city says the restructured compensation package will be absorbed by the current city budget. If the police pay structure is approved by the council, it would take effect August 8.