WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — West Valley City leaders agreed to match the Salt Lake City Police Department's pay scale in an effort to stay competitive.
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It’s something West Valley City’s city manager Wayne Pile didn’t expect to happen, and leaders will have to dip into savings and consider raising taxes to sustain.
“It’s shocking. It’s life changing to many of our officers who are younger, for sure. It’s a pretty significant bump in pay,” West Valley Police Sgt. Carey Stricker said.
The move comes as the Salt Lake City Council will hear public comment on amending the city budget to include a 30% raise for many police officers Tuesday.
SLCPD struggled to hire and retain officers after anti-police protests last summer. Right now, 64 positions remain unfilled.
“We were left in a quandary. It’s completely outside our strategy to do such a drastic thing as we have now done,” Pile wrote in an internal West Valley City email obtained Tuesday by FOX 13 News.
In West Valley City, 24 officer positions remain open. Stricker says “quite a few officers” recently left for Taylorsville, which is paying law enforcement more money.
While the pay increase is meant to show officer appreciation in West Valley City, Stricker believes the it could be a recruitment game changer.
“There are a lot of individuals we think are interested in it, individuals that may look at coming back that have left us for other agencies,” he said.
The proposed raise for Salt Lake City officers appears to be working. At a city council meeting last week, Chief Mike Brown expected more than 150 total applicants by the end of the month. At least five former officers plan to come back.
“I know these officers care deeply about Salt Lake City and the police department, and they want to be part of our future.They deserve a competitive salary, which they now have thanks to Mayor Mendenhall and the city council,” Brown said to the council.
The Salt Lake City Council is expected to hear public comment on the proposed officer pay increase Tuesday at 7 p.m.