By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor
City officials are hoping a new incentive package for Clovis police will help hike staffing levels and attract more experienced officers to the force.
City Manager Ray Mondragon will present an approximately $80,000 annual incentive package for approval at tonight’s city commission meeting.
If approved, the average incentive pay for an officer will come to $1,481 annually.
He said the Clovis Police Department — like law enforcement departments nationwide — is in the midst of a staffing crunch and fewer people want to join the profession.
“We have applicants who are not testing well, we have applicants who are not passing backgrounds — and it boils down to we have people who just don’t want to be cops, and part of that issue is the pay,” Mondragon said.
There are 54 employees working in the Clovis Police Department, which is down about 11 officers, city officials said.
Mondragon said it looks as if everyone in the department will receive a portion of the bonus pay if it’s approved.
For example, a high-level supervisor will receive an additional $105 a month, according to the plan.
But one first line supervisor said that number is deceiving, as he is already getting about $80 extra a month for holding that position. He will actually get about $25 extra for holding the title if the plan is approved, Mondragon said.
“It’s a little deceiving because on the first line supervisor we’re already getting some of that,” said Sgt. Jay Longley, a member of the Region 5 Drug Task Force. “I think it’s a step in the right direction, but until they actually get the salaries up they’re not going to cure the problem.”
However, since Longley is certified for hazardous assignments — cleaning up methamphetamine labs for example — he will receive an additional $50 a month if commissioners approve the plan.
A month ago, city commissioners approved a pay increase between 4 and 12 percent for about 35 officers who have signed a petition to form a union.
The other officers received the increase along with other city employees on June 5. The salary increases came to about an additional $200,000 for the year, Mondragon said.
More than one commissioner said at last month’s commission meeting that police had pressured city commissioners with propaganda that exaggerated problems in the department.
Detective Kirk Roberts, president of the Clovis Police Officers Association that wants to form a union, denied those allegations.
Mondragon said the proposed incentive is not intended to be a smokescreen for the group of officers hoping to form a union.
“We support them unionizing if that’s what they want — that’s their choice,” he said.
Clovis Police Chief Bill Carey said if the plan passes it will help with recruitment and retention efforts.