Conway police seek pay raises for officers

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) - The Conway Police Department is trying get more money to keep its officers and bring new ones in.

Conway police are asking to raise salaries for all sworn officers. The goal is to have a competitive starting salary for new officers and keep current ones from leaving for larger cities.

The Conway Police Department says it's losing an average of eight officers a year.

While the department lost fewer last year than in 2016, police say it's not easy to have departures every year.

"For us, it takes 16-and-a-half months to replace one officer on the road after you lose them, just waiting for a spot at the academy to go and all the road training that they have," said Capt. Tammy Carter with the Conway Police Department.

So Conway police are looking to increase pay scales to bring in and keep more officers. During last week's city budget retreat, Conway police proposed raising the starting salary to $42,340. That's about a $4,500 increase.

The starting pay scale would go up to $45,000 a year for an officer with two to three years experience. Police say it would cost about $410,000 to pay for raises throughout the department.

The goal is to stay competitive with other agencies like in Myrtle Beach, where taxes were raised to increase police pay.

"The proposal that came from the police force is a big one and city council is reluctant to raise taxes," said Conway city administrator Adam Emrick.

Emrick says Conway's city council wants to hire an outside consultant to study salaries for all employees.

"We have to retain our police force, but the monetary consideration is not the only consideration that results in turnover of staff," Emrick said.

Conway police also suggested using a policy already in place, allowing more officers to take vehicles home to improve morale and efficiency in responding to calls.

"If two officers share a car, you have to wait for the car to get to you, load and unload," Capt. Carter said. "It just takes a lot of time for that. You know where your stuff is at when you're ready to roll out for duty."

Emrick says the city is looking at how much a consultant would cost to study employee salaries before hiring one by July 1.

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