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Let's quit trying to short-shrift public servants

Sarah's picture

I'm fed to the teeth with the "we can't afford government" shtick, y'all.

Tonight I heard one of my hometown's public opinion shapers -- again -- decrying the need to spend money to recruit, train, and retain professional public servants: our police force.

Don't get me started on what these nimrods want to pay public health nurses, disease investigators, and schoolteachers (except football coaches. Football coaches are worth several million dollars a year at the collegiate level, but the top researcher in that same university ought to be damn glad to make $45,000 a year).

Don't talk to me about their ideas on paying to keep libraries open (they don't see the harm in permanent closures, part-time hours and demanding a master's for an entry-level job for which they offer to pay $9 hourly -- it's all just government expense, so we should be able to get rid of it).

Our local NBC affiliate's general manager gets on every Tuesday night to opine under his "video column," "Consider This." Tonight his claim was that he supports the Lubbock Police Department.

He says he'd like to see them become one of the top three departments, pay-wise, in Texas. (Depending on whether you use the city's numbers or the police association's numbers, they're either or they're barely in the top 50 statewide in terms of pay.) But right now isn't the time, he says.

Though Lubbock's economy is better than many, jobs are being lost, people are skeptical about the immediate future. What we should be doing instead, he says, is recruiting for the 100 or so open positions in the PD -- recruiting from "the three states hardest hit" in this economy. He'd like to see us sell Lubbock to officers from Miami and Detroit, because, he said, we've got a great place to live, a low cost of living, and police jobs that pay more than $40,000 a year to start and have "incredible benefits."
But the numbers explain

why Lubbock stays understrength:

Source: Lubbock Police Department Starting police pay around Texas

• State average: $30,000

• Dallas Police Department: $41,690

• Plano Police Department: $56,631*

• Arlington Police Department: $49,504

• Houston Police Department: $43,965

• Austin Police Department: $50,848

* TMPA officials says this is the best paying department in Texas

Sources: Texas Municipal Police Association, Police departments for the following cities: Dallas, Arlington, Plano, Houston, Austin Starting police pay around the region

• Lubbock Police Department: $41,221

Comparable-size cities in the region pay their officers more later in their careers, too; an LPD patrol officer's salary tops out at $54 K, while in Midland the top pay for a patrol officer is $63K.

Lubbock's population is around 225,000 (*MSA-wide). Midland's is less. LPD hasn't had an officer killed on duty in several years (this past weekend we did lose a Lubbock County Sheriff's Office corporal to a drunk driver). Odessa, which is down the road from Midland the way Fort Worth is down the road from Dallas, had three killed in one incident (domestic violence call, which any officer will tell you is just about the ultimate suck to respond to) in 2007.

It's awful hard to justify the attitude of our local pundit-wannabe, IMNVHO.

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Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

If this is a duplicate, I apologize. I thought that I had commented but I appear to have sent it into the ether.

Our local PD pays less than $9/hour to start, and patrolman's pay tops out at less than $15/hour. Needless to say morale is terrible and turnover is high. Most of the Department does something else to make ends meet, and conflicts involving those other businesses have resulted in forced retirements or firings of about 30% of the Department in the last year. To give a sense of how bad it is, I was in the Department a couple of weeks ago when I noticed one of the women had pulled her gun and was holding it between her knees under the desk. A patrolman was in the same room, acting strangely, and she later told me that his threats made her fear for her life. She just wanted to make sure she didn't draw too slowly, she said. Yeah - that bad.

This does not happen in a vacuum. One of our leading lights in town spoke privately about his reasons for driving an industry that wanted to locate here out of town. We couldn't have their unionized work force upsetting the local pay scales, he said. It's part of a vicious peasant mentality that is satisfied to barely survive as long as the are people who are worse off, and exploitive local employers mutually supporting just those conditions.

I am a local employer; my business is relatively new. I pay well above prevailing rates for all sorts of reasons that only have to make sense to me. I am constantly amazed at the hostility to me and my business that I have encountered. The local power structure that I battle is not conservative, they are just cheap and they just cheat.