Police officers & firefighters fight for career development fund - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Police officers & firefighters fight for career development funds


A budget battle brewing in Richmond could affect the public's safety. Police and firefighters fear they're being short-changed again. If they don't get money due to them for training, there's a possibility the city could lose crucial public safety workers.

The funds are for career development. Richmond Police officers and the firefighters who work at stations all over Richmond have already gotten training to make this city safer, but what they haven't gotten are the pay bumps that go along with those specialties.

It's a raise of sorts people in most professions see. In public safety fields, the more training police officers or firefighters get the more money they expect to make. It's a way to reward the education and progress through the career, but it is not included in the mayor's budget proposal for this year, nor has it been for the past several.

"It's a morale killer," said police union President Stacy Rogers.

He believes the situation could get bad for Richmonders, as public safety personnel leave for other localities.

"Now we've got him trained and everybody in the community knows him," Rogers explained. "He's actually starting to give back to the community and suddenly he looks around and notices that there are other communities and other neighborhoods that have either unfroze their career development or the grass looks greener to them."

The answer to that problem might come from City Council President Charles Samuels and a budget amendment to restore the funding that he plans to propose.

"It's going to be a matter of balances of what's the core function of government," Samuels said. "I believe this is very important to the city's future."

In terms of the price tag for the city, to move the police department up one level it would cost about $700,000. To do the same for the fire department it would be just about $220,000.

Keith Andes, with the firefighters' union says in a budget of about $700 million, that's worth it.

"In the grand scheme of things it's a drop in the bucket in the overall budget but the knowledge and the better employee that we're getting, it's priceless," he added.

Samuels would need the support of at least five of his fellow council members to pass the amendment and six to make it veto-proof. Both unions have been lobbying city officials and plan to have a strong showing at Monday's city council meeting.

Last year, for the first time in several years, both departments got pay raises. This year, though, those step increases are frozen again.

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