Aug 10, 2022 - News

Phoenix police union walks back support for officer raise plan

Illustration of a police officer standing on the highest pile of coins in a row.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association says a new officer pay scale that increases recruit's salaries by about $20,000 "ignores experienced officers."

Catch up fast: In June, the Phoenix City Council approved a new pay scale for officers that made Phoenix the highest-paying department in the state for all sworn ranks.

  • Recruits and younger officers got the biggest immediate pay raises, which took effect Monday.

Of note: PLEA president Darrell Kriplean testified in support of the pay scale in June, saying it would help recruit the "best and brightest" and commending city manager Jeff Barton for raising officer pay.

Yes, but: Now Kriplean is changing his tune. In a statement Tuesday, he said many senior officers received little to no pay increase, "in some circumstances a laughable 7-cent-per-hour increase."

  • "Now, many officers will have to wait six months to a year for any additional meaningful compensation increases while we continue to manage a severe staffing crisis and reduced morale within the department."
  • A PLEA spokesperson tells Axios Phoenix the organization supported the new pay scale but says the way it was implemented "does not provide all officers with an equal pay increase immediately."
  • PLEA says it raised concerns about "aspects of the plan" but the city approved it without addressing them.

The other side: City spokesperson Dan Wilson says compensation is improving for all officers, including veterans.

  • The new pay scale expanded the salary cap, allowing senior officers to make up to $15,000 more annually throughout their careers, he says.
  • Beyond that, the city gave raises to all officers this year and last and will provide an additional one-time bonus in December.
  • The city has also offered a $7,500 retention incentive for officers who commit to stay with the department for two years

Details: City officials told Axios Phoenix in June that the pay-scale change was meant to combat staffing shortages by luring new recruits.

  • Phoenix police is short about 480 sworn officers and has paid lower wages for recruits and officers than neighboring cities since the 2008 recession, making it hard to recruit and retain them.

Zoom out: Police departments across the Valley and the country are facing significant staffing shortages, resulting in longer response times and fewer proactive policing programs.

Go deeper: Baltimore's Michael Sullivan named Phoenix interim police chief.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from PLEA on how it views the officer’s raises.

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