In an effort to hang on to certified police officers, the city of Gainesville has implemented a mid-year pay hike for all officers, with the exception of top management.
City Manager Bryan Lackey said Friday the increases are effective with the January 1 pay period.
"The entry level [pay] for a certified officer will change from approximately $35,000 where it is now to an hourly rate that takes them to just above $40,000," Lackey said.
Lackey and Gainesville Police Chief Carol Martin made the public announcement of the raises Friday morning, saying that the pay increase will replace a quarterly bonus system that was enacted in FY 2017 to retain certified officers. Both said the $1,000 bonuses did not have the result they had hoped - certified officers continued to exit for higher-paying jobs in other jurisdictions.
Martin said Gainesville, unlike some other departments, is willing to hire some non-certified officers and train them.
"We send them to the [Police] Academy, we do a four to five month program training them on the road and then once they get to completing about two to two-and-a-half years [in Gainesville], they leave us for more money," Martin said.
Lackey said the city started 2017 with six officer vacancies in the department. During the course of the year, 23 officers left the department. Even with new hires, Gainesville PD has 10 officers vacancies at the beginning of the current year. Martin said the department current has 103 certified officers on staff and 15 civilian employees.
Lackey said the plan also includes salary "compression" adjustments for other officers, so that the pay raises range from 12.5% to 2% to 90% of the force. Only top management will not receive mid-year pay adjustments.
"Chief Martin, Deputy Chief [Jay] Parrish and others will not be seeing that," Lackey said. "We hope to be able to address that with the next fiscal year budget."
Lackey said because money had been budgeted for the bonuses, there will be no additional monies needed to implement the pay raises. He estimated that the city will need to budget an additional $300,000 in the upcoming fiscal year for police salaries.
Martin said having competitive salaries for her department is not just a cost-of-living issue for the officers, but is a quality of life issue for the city of Gainesville.
"The longer someone is in this career...they learn the citizens, they learn the area - they can see what's wrong, what's correct - the community becomes theirs," Martin said. "We've been rated the 14th safest city in the state. I'd like to see that move up. To do that, you have to have quality officers."