Northam proposes pay increases for state law enforcement

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 5:05 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2021 at 10:39 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - During Gov. Ralph Northam’s ‘Thank You, Virginia’ Tour, he proposed pay increases for law enforcement as part of his two-year state budget.

Northam proposed increasing pay for Virginia State Troopers, correctional officers, deputy sheriffs and regional jail officers.

“Law enforcement officers carry a heavy burden as they work to protect Virginians, and this raise is the right thing to do,” said Northam. “Virginia is committed to training officers, funding alternative response systems, and investing in communities. It is also important that our officers are paid enough to create a positive work environment free from as much stress and burnout as possible. This raise and increased funding is a huge step forward.”

The budget proposes that new state troopers will get a 7.7 percent pay raise and the starting salary for new correction officers will increase by 25 percent. New deputy sheriffs and regional jail officials will receive about a 20 percent pay increase.

“The Governor’s budget also includes significant funding to address pay compression and provide additional raises to a range of targeted officers and sworn personnel,” a release said.

Right now, Virginia State Police has 335 vacancies.

“Over the past two years, VSP has seen a 43% increase in departures of sworn officers, and over the past four years, a 40% decrease in the number of applicants,” Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran said.

According to the Richmond Coalition of Police, or RCOP, VSP is not the only agency in a staffing crisis.

“We have over 100 vacancies, and we have over 70 people on extended leave,” RCOP President Brendan Leavy said. “We have almost 200 officers that aren’t on the streets, and it’s causing a real problem.”

City leaders are moving forward with a $100,000 study that would increase pay for police and fire by next summer. In the meantime, RCOP says the waiting game is putting public safety in jeopardy as Richmond officers resign in droves.

“Morale is at an all-time low due to pay and staffing and working conditions,” Leavy said. “The city has just been kicking the can down the road, which we tried very, very hard during the last budget to institute a new pay plan, which they decided not to and just people have continued to leave the Richmond Police Department.”

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