DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Law enforcement leaders say hiring and keeping police officers is becoming even more difficult. Daytona Beach leaders are working to combat that and become one of the most competitive agencies in Central Florida for pay and incentives.
The police department currently has 41 vacancies. Part of city leaders’ plan to fix that are raises starting in July and some proposed incentives that will also go to vote next month.
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“We were able to pull monies together to make sure that we can be the leading agency in terms of salaries,” city manager Deric Feacher said.
Feacher said it will make the department the highest paying in Volusia County.
In July, sworn officers will get a $3 an hour raise, with minimum pay jumping to $23.58 an hour ($49,065.42 annual). Then, in October, hourly pay will increase another 3%.
“We fell behind some of the surrounding agencies in pay and that should never be because realistically there’s no comparison to the call volume that our officers respond to in this city,” Chief Jakari Young said.
On July 6, several incentives will go to the city commission for a vote. One will be an increase to $60 an hour for outside details at beachside bars and $80 an hour during the big spring events and Biketoberfest.
The other idea is sworn officers could retire after 20 years instead of 25 with the department and get a full pension.
Young hopes these will also help retain current officers, which is a problem they’ve also faced on top of recruitment.
“With everything that’s been going on in this country the last few years, some are just getting out of law enforcement, they just don’t want anything to do with it and then we have lost some to agencies that pay more,” he said.
U.S. Labor Statistics’ latest data shows Florida ranks 27th in the nation for pay. The state also recently passed legislation with new incentives like new recruit signing bonuses and tuition and training reimbursement.
“We’re stepping our game up as far as recruitment in order to fill the vacancies and now I believe with this increase it’s really going to assist us,” Young said.
Daytona Beach firefighters will also get a $1.54 an hour raise and would get the 5-year earlier retirement option if approved.