The Jonesboro Police Department pay issue has been one of the most provocative Better Region 8 editorial subjects in many years.
The fact that Jonesboro Police officers start at lower pay than many of the surrounding departments, and there are no step raises awarded for years of service to the department are major obstacles for recruiting and retaining police officers.
Everything reached a fever pitch when 23 JPD officers protested by parking their "take home" cars in the parking lot at city hall along with a note for the Mayor. I think the city heard them loud and clear.
Mitch Johnson, the chairperson of the Police Officer Compensation Committee and the Public Safety Council Committee, told council members that he wants to hold a special meeting Tuesday, July 26 at 4:30 to discuss a new plan in detail.
The plan will cost the city $852,000 up front. If it's approved, officers will receive step raises ranging from 1-year to 20 years on the job. Many other police departments of similar size already have step plans in place and that helps them in recruiting officers. This plan would put JPD on a more even playing field and means Chief Rick Elliott can look a police recruit in the eye and tell them "the city supports you staying with us for a career and not just a couple of years." That's one of the recruiting tools he needs to get the best and keep them.
Discussion is nice, but action is better. I'm calling on Mayor Harold Perrin and the entire Jonesboro City Council to listen to committee's recommendation of and turn it into action. It's time to put your money where your mouth is. Now more than ever, supporting our current police officers and overcoming the challenge of recruiting new ones is important. Doing the right thing here and giving our police what they deserve makes this a Better Region 8.
- Chris Conroy, KAIT VP & General Manager
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