Reporter – Leigh Hester- Nearly one in three employees of the City of Henderson Police Department will leave the force this year if recent past trends continue. In less than two years, 24 police officers have left the City force to work in cities with higher pay grades.
Twenty-one positions within the department are open but unfilled because of the City’s inability to compete with other localities with higher pay grades.
Ten of those unfilled but funded positions in the Department will, if the current proposed Budget is enacted, be eliminated from the Department. Five of these positions have been open for five or more years.
Eliminating these ten positions will allow funds within the department to be redistributed in order to raise the City’s starting pay grade from $27,955 to around $31,000, in the hopes of attracting new officers to fill the understaffed department. Officers already working for the City will receive adjusted salaries as well, perhaps inducing them to stay in Henderson.
None of the tax or fee increases proposed by the City Manager will go to these pay increases; this is to be a shift in departmental money only. However, this will severely reduce the number of sworn officers available to the City until or unless City Council members, in the future, vote to create more positions for the City Police.
Chief of Police Keith Sidwell is working to perfect this plan so that pay increases can go into effect at the end of July.
With at least weekly meetings in Henderson’s City Hall, continuing discussion among council members will alter the details above. To hear more and voice your opinion, please attend the budget work sessions as can be viewed on the City of Henderson’s calendar on their website.