Jonesboro police officers seek answers over pay

Jonesboro police officers seek answers over pay

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Concerns about pay brought dozens of Jonesboro police officers to the city council chambers Tuesday night.

"We have several officers that have been here eight, nine, ten years that are continually making the same thing as what a new hire officer is making," JPD Officer Tony Zaffarano said.

In the ranks of Jonesboro police, there are frustrations over pay but not just about the amount they're receiving. Officers took a stand Tuesday night to say they also want more transparency in how their checks are broken down.

Dozens of officers stood shoulder to shoulder to let the Jonesboro City Council know that despite their issues with pay, they will still do their jobs.  

Now they want the council to do theirs.

"We are here to try to get some answers," Zaffarano said.

Zaffarano, who serves as the president for the Fraternal Order of Police, spoke on behalf of those officers in attendance.

In addressing the council, he brought up two main concerns of Jonesboro police officers.

Their first concern involves their holiday pay.

"We have been told that it is included in our base pay," Zaffarano said. "Although when we have asked questions and FOIA'd, we have not gotten any answers. All we are told is that it's in there."

While they're looking for clarification on holiday pay, they're also seeking change when it comes to base pay for the boys in blue.

New hires at the department often make the same as experienced officers.

"Experience matters, especially in this job," Zaffarano said. "We are losing officers to smaller agencies because of better pay and better benefits."

Zaffarano said they conducted a salary survey for officers in the top five populated cities in the state and they found the news disheartening.

"Jonesboro, unfortunately, ranks almost 5th out of all those cities in every category."

Council members responded. Not only did they move to create a committee to find answers but they also suggested the possibility of incremental pay raises for every city department.

"It did set you up for something more than a cost of living increase between a guy who's been there five to eight years and a new hire. It's just the right thing to do," Jonesboro Alderman John Street said.

Street, who also serves as a reserve officer for JPD, said each of the concerns brought up by police Tuesday night need to be addressed.

"They're entitled to their pay. if they're getting it, we need to explain to it how they're getting it and if not, we need to be making it up, we need to pay them," Street said in reference to holiday pay.

Street also responded to questions about pay for police.

"We've got a great workforce and a great bunch of employees and we don't want to lose them," he said.

Zaffarano says after months of waiting for answers, it's good to see things moving forward.

"We're not trying to be the highest paid in the state or anything like that. We're just wanting comparable pay for our officers," Zaffarano said. "For a city this size, to serve on it, we feel like we deserve it."

A committee should be formed at the next regularly scheduled council meeting in January. It will likely be made up of police officers, council members, the mayor and city finance employees.

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