SANDY, Utah (News4Utah) — On Tuesday, June 5, Sandy City Council approved a plan to allocate roughly $1 million of its annual budget towards police officer salaries.
“Anyone who followed my campaign knows this was a big priority for me when I came in. I wanted to finally put our money where our mouth is,” said Sandy Mayor, Kurt Bradburn. “We always say we appreciate our fire and police, but here in Sandy we haven’t been allocating our money that way for a long time.”
Recruitment and retention have been a big challenge in Sandy for several years.
“Every agency is competing with the same pool, and it becomes very competitive as the best candidates are looking for the best compensation packages,” said Sandy Police Lieutenant, Dean Carriger.
The force currently loses about a fourth of its personnel every year.
“That is just not acceptable for me as mayor,” said Mayor Bradburn. “Public safety is always number one in our resident surveys, and it’s difficult to say we have a well-trained, well-experienced police force when a fourth of them are turning over every year.”
Turnover has led to challenges in the department. Most officers have fewer than three years of experience. Officers say this can lead to slow reactions in high-stress situations.
“Right now we have a very young department as we’ve had a lot of turnover in previous years, so our experience level has dropped,” said Lieutenant Carriger. “They’re great officers. They’ve had a great deal of training and experience; however, it’s that institutional knowledge they just don’t have yet.”
But officials believe any downside will be temporary, as retention improves.
They anticipate this pay scale will ultimately give recruits incentive to join the force and stay.
The new pay scale lifts entry-level pay by 10 percent. First-year recruits will earn $2 more per hour. Their hourly rate offer is $21.58.
The new pay scale also offers the maximum pay rate sooner rather than later.
“It shortens the career ladder so to speak, so instead of taking 17 years to cap out in your scale, it will take 12 years,” said Mayor Bradburn.
Maximum pay will also climb $2 per hour, so top paid police officers will now receive $34 an hour after serving 12 years.
Officials ultimately believe this investment will pay off for more than just the officers.
“This was all about keeping our city safe,” said Mayor Bradburn.
If you’re interested in a career as a police officer, Mayor Bradburn and Lieutenant Carriger encourage you to reach out to the Sandy Police Department.