Lynchburg city council has approved pay increases for police officers in the hopes of keeping more of them from leaving the department.
According to officials, in the last two and a half years, 53 officers have left the force voluntarily, a higher than normal turnover rate for a department of that size.
“That’s a lot of good officers,” said Todd Swisher, Lynchburg’s deputy police chief. “We work hard to recruit, hire and train good people. And it’s difficult to lose those people.”
Officers are mainly leaving for better pay, Swisher said. Those vacancies and salary savings have left the department with a surplus, he added.
The department will use $140,000 of that money to increase pay for officers at certain levels, he explained.
“They have not seen pay adjustments of any consequence in years,” Swisher said. “And those are the people we’re trying to target with this.”
Taxpayers may have to help pay for these pay increases in future years, Swisher said.
Mayor Joan Foster said she believes higher pay for officers cannot be funded for only a year.
“If we spend almost a half a year to a year really training those who are coming on board as new police officers, we need to keep them,” Foster said.
The pay increases will go into effect in August, Swisher said.