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OGDEN — In an effort to stop a recent surge of officers leaving the department and accepting jobs with competing agencies, the Ogden City Police Department will be boosting pay for its 140 officers on staff.
At a meeting on Jan. 23, the Ogden City Council voted unanimously to approve to the salary amendment after Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt voiced concern that Ogden can’t compete with other departments, including the Salt Lake City Police Department, Utah Highway Patrol, Unified Police Department and the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
In November 2017, the Salt Lake City Council voted to hire 50 new Salt Lake police officers by June 2018. In a news release sent Friday, the Salt Lake City Police Department indicated that it had already hired 40 officers.
“Chief Watt is concerned he may lose officers to SLC with the increase in hiring efforts,” according to the pay change proposal that was presented to the council.
“Salt Lake recruits heavily from Ogden City because of the excellent training and experience Ogden officer receive,” the proposal reads. “Ogden also uses the same reporting software which reduces training time for SLC.”
The Ogden Police Department has had 27 officers leave to work with nearby agencies in the last 2 1/2 years, the Standard-Examiner reported. Of those, 16 went to work with the Salt Lake City Police Department.
The pay change includes a 2.5 percent pay increase for officers who work afternoon shifts (noon to 6 p.m.), and a 5 percent pay increase for officers who work night shifts (after 6 p.m.). The department will also provide education incentives by offering annual bonuses based on degree. Officers with an associate’s degree will receive an additional $1,000 a year, while officers with bachelor’s and master’s degrees will get $2,000 and $3,000 more, respectively.
The council’s approval of the pay increase did not include an increase in funding for the police department. Instead, the pay differentials will be accounted for with funding the department already has. In 2016, the City Council approved a large budget increase for the police department, raising the budget to $860,175.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police and detectives in the United States made $61,600 annually in 2016, and law enforcement workers made $53,240. The median annual wage for all occupations in the U.S. was $37,040. The BLS notes that agencies often provide officers with additional compensation through benefits and early retirement options.
“This is a beginning,” Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said about the pay change. “We’re going to have to up our game even more to hold on to them (Ogden police officers).”