Pay raises for police and other city-parish employees approved by Metro Council
BATON ROUGE - The East Baton Rouge mayor-president's proposal to raise wages for city-parish employees, namely law enforcement, was approved by the Metro Council on Wednesday.
"I am excited to put that new brochure out on our recruitment to talk about this pay raise, so that we can fill that next academy class and get those vacancies filled," Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said.
According to a statement from Mayor Sharon Weston Broome's office, Baton Rouge police officers would see the biggest increase: a seven-percent bump. Firefighters and other employees across the parish would see a five-percent raise.
“This increase serves as an investment in public safety and the community by retaining skilled talent here in Baton Rouge. As Mayor-President, growing and sustaining our police force and all city-parish departments has been, and continues to be, one of my top priorities. If we are going to get a handle on our challenges, we must have qualified, well-trained, and knowledgeable staff in all departments,” Mayor Broome said in a statement.
BRPD saw two separate pay increases, each around three percent, last year as the city-parish said it was working to make police pay more competitive with other agencies.
The increase marks the first city-parish-wide wage increase since 2015.
“We train people. We've got a good academy. We give good training,” one woman said during public comment.
The department is seeing officers getting the training and then leaving to go to places that pay more.
“Our officer's pay is less than the city of Gonzales' officer pay. That's a problem. The city of Gonzales doesn't have the crime issues we've got,” she said.
Despite two pay increases in the last two years, Baton Rouge officers' pay was among the lowest in the metro area.
The raise does come from tax dollars, but the city was able to find extra money already in the budget. So, they don't have to ask taxpayers for more money.
“There's a couple of things that we are doing to fund the pay raise. One thing is is that we've had really great sales tax collections this year and so that is actually the recurring source for the pay raise,” explained Linda Hunt, the city’s Director of Finance.
BRPD union representatives believe it will not be long until everyone sees the benefit from the raises.
“This little boost here is going to make us a lot more attractive to young men and women that want to become police officers, and it benefits you because there's going to be more officers to answer your calls for service and to patrol your neighborhoods,” Bill Profita with the Baton Rouge Union of Police said.
The pay raise goes into effect on September 10th.