CHPD officers receive a pay increaseNov 02, 2021 10:40AM ● By Cassie Goff
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
Police officer salaries have been on the rise throughout Utah. In June, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced the city would be increasing salaries for public safety employees. Since then, other municipalities have been implementing similar pay increases as police departments are worried about losing trained officers.
The Cottonwood Heights Police Department (CHPD) is one such department worried about losing officers to other municipalities offering higher salaries. Police Chief Robby Russo asked the Cottonwood Heights City Council to consider a budget adjustment to keep officers’ salaries competitive.
“Cottonwood Heights would like to remain competitive and retain current employees,” City Manager Tim Tingey explained, emphasizing his similar concern over departments actively recruiting officers offering $5 to $6 more an hour.
Tingey reported to the city council that Herriman, Taylorsville, West Valley, South Jordan, West Jordan, and South Salt Lake already increased their pay substantially. As of publication, Draper, Murray, Sandy and Unified Police Department (UPD) were expected to pass increases as well.
On Sept. 7, Tingey proposed a pay plan adjustment with an overall impact of $363,077 over nine months and $484,102 over 12 months to the city’s annual budget.
“We are very vulnerable to losing people when other jurisdictions increase pay this much and we know some of them are actively recruiting,” Tingey said.
To remain competitive, the plan adjustment will increase police officer salaries from the current minimum of $22.68 an hour up to $28.25 per hour and the current maximum of $38.61 per hour to $42.68 per hour. It will also allow for sergeants making the minimum of $39.56 per hour to make $45.31 per hour and for sergeants making the maximum of $45.56 per hour to make $49.07 per hour. Lastly, lieutenants making the current minimum of $48.82 per hour will increase to $52.35 per hour and lieutenants making the current maximum of $52.57 per hour will make $56.38 per hour.
“The officers being targeted (for recruitment) are bilingual females with minority backgrounds who have three to four years of experience,” Russo said. “Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake have already asked them for applications. How do I tell them to stay here and be loyal here?”
Out of the current 38 CHPD officers: six officers have under five years of experience; eight officers have between five and 10 years of experience; six officers have between 10 and 15 years of experience; seven officers have between 15 and 20 years of experience; and 11 officers have over 20 years of experience.
Councilmember Tali Bruce and Councilmember Christine Mikell suggested considering additional elements to improve employee retention other than raising pay, like paying the salaries of active-duty military members and providing daycare services.
“If we are just looking at dollar per hour for the lower-level people, then raise the salaries for those we are in jeopardy of losing. In the meantime, we should be looking at retention and what is meaningful to our police and the department,” Mikell said.
Russo emphasized that the dollar amount seems crucial in the current environment. “In this particular instance, it is all about the money,” he said.
Tingey mentioned he would like Cottonwood Heights to remain one of the top municipalities within the area for pay. In January, the council raised pay for the CHPD in accordance with market adjustments to remain one of the highest paying departments. However, with so many municipalities raising their pay within the last few months, Cottonwood Heights was expected to be eighth on the list.
Mayor Mike Peterson mentioned how it was important to the city council to remain within the top three for highest paying entities for firefighters, with Unified Fire Authority (UFA), so he believed that same goal should remain consistent with CHPD.
On Oct. 5, the city council unanimously approved Ordinance 369: Approving Amendments to the 2021-2022 Budget. Ordinance 369 was moved by Councilmember Scott Bracken and seconded by Councilmember Doug Peterson.