DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham police officers and firefighters could receive a raise later this month as Durham City Councilors are expected to vote on a proposal at their next city council meeting on Jan. 18.
On Thursday afternoon, city staff presented a proposal to increase police officer and firefighter pay during a city council work session.
Under this proposal, Durham Police officer recruits would receive a 10.6 percent raise and firefighter recruits would receive a 14.3 percent raise.
This would take police recruit pay in Durham from $38,511 to $42,593 and firefighter recruit pay would increase from $35,592 to $40,682.
If this raise passes, the starting salary for Durham police officers and firefighters would be higher than in other cities like Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro.
During Thursday’s work session, city council members voiced their support for the proposal.
“Durham is about to be where it belongs: No. 1 amongst our peers in compensating folk who by definition run towards what the rest of us run from,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mark-Anthony Middleton.
Councilman Leonardo Williams said he realizes this will be a difficult budget year, but he said this raise is needed.
“This is part of our overall solution to making Durham a safer and better place to live, this is a must-do,” Williams said.
This pay raise proposal comes as there are 87 officer vacancies in the Durham Police Department and there are 34 responder vacancies in the Durham Fire Department, according to city officials.
The shortage of police officers in Durham has impacted patrol staffing, as on some days in recent months they were only 50 to 60 percent staffed on patrols, according to internal emails CBS 17 obtained.
In an effort to boost staffing on patrol, Chief Patrice Andrews is requiring officers with the rank of investigator and above, including herself, to go out on patrol for a total of four days from January through March.
Andrews said last month she is hopeful the city’s proposal for a pay increase will go a long way in retaining and recruiting more officers in Durham.
Durham city councilors are expected to vote on this raise on Jan. 18, when the item will be on the consent agenda.
If it passes, it will be applied to paychecks on Jan. 28.
The raise would cost the city $4 million for the remainder of the fiscal year and it will have an annual cost of $9.5 million.