Jan 20, 2022 - News

Arkansas trooper pay lags behind neighbors

Data: Axios Research; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Axios Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

Starting pay for Arkansas State Police is the third-lowest when compared to its neighboring states, an Axios analysis found.

What's happening: Director of the Arkansas State Police, Bill Bryant, wants to raise the annual starting salary for troopers by $10,000 or more, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

  • Bryant made comments to state lawmakers in a joint budget committee meeting Tuesday.

Why it matters: State police help ensure public safety on state and federal roads, often outside the jurisdiction of city police departments.

By the numbers: Starting pay for Arkansas recruits while they're in training is $42,537.

  • Bryant told the committee he'd like to increase the pay to between $52,000 and $55,000.
  • A trooper living in south Arkansas can move to Texas, which pays an overtime rate, and potentially make $100,000 in five years, he said.

Yes, and: There are 61 open positions, which is about 10% of the entire force.

  • That may drop to 22 vacancies if all current recruits show up for training next week.

Flashback: Gov. Asa Hutchinson last week proposed increasing the general revenue budget to $78 million for state police, a $7.4 million increase.

What they're saying: Bryant told the committee the pay levels and increased scrutiny of law enforcement have reduced the number of applicants.

  • The state police force is receiving less than 25% of the applicants than it did five years ago, spokesperson Bill Sadler told Axios. 
  • Troopers with 5 to 8 years of service have been leaving the force at unprecedented levels for the past few years, he added. Most are going into the civilian workforce, some to other states for higher salaries.

What to watch: Lawmakers will convene on Feb. 14 for a legislative session focused on the state budget. The state's fiscal year begins July 1.

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