CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers say morale is the lowest it has ever been in the department and a pay raise is needed to keep officers from finding another job.
CMPD officers took nearly every seat inside the Government Center Monday night.
“The ship is sinking and there are lifeboats in the water but they are not from Charlotte,” Daniel Redford, with CMPD, said. “They are from other places that are providing the pay and benefits needed to take your officers.”
Leaders of the Fraternal Order of Police addressed Charlotte City Council as CMPD officers stood in support. The FOP is asking city leaders to raise CMPD’s pay by 15 percent.
They also want better health care, the reinstatement of retiree insurance for those hired after 2009, the top salary pay plan to be reduced from 13 steps to seven and take-home cars for officers who live in city limits.
“Our recommendations, we believe, will improve recruitment and retention as well as improve the morale within the department,” Mark Michalec, with the FOP, said.
FOP officials said that last year 114 police officers were hired, but 120 left CMPD.
Policemen are leaving Charlotte for other cities in North Carolina with better pay, according to FOP officials.
Councilman Tariq Bokhari said the city needs to take a hard look at a salary increase.
“Not be below average or average, but exceptional,” Bokhari said.
Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt is open to the pay raise but wants to hear from the police chief on what he thinks is best for retention.
“It's his department and he knows the best way to manage retention,” Eiselt said.
FOP officials said that 58 officers are slated to retire this year.
Council members will make a decision on the pay raise over the next couple of months.
A new officer for CMPD makes about $43,000 a year to start and can eventually earn up to $66,000.
FOP officials said that an officer in Raleigh can make up to $77,000.
A 15 percent raise would bump the starting salary to just over $50,000.
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