How LPD pay increase would match up regionally
Published 9:00 am Saturday, June 10, 2023
The City of LaGrange is considering increasing the starting salary for police to $60,000 to recruit and retain officers.
During recent council discussions, City Manager Meg Kelsey said the department has 18 vacant officer positions, which does not include the five school resource officers requested by the Troup County School System.
New recruits at the LaGrange Police Department currently start at $51,500, so if the change is approved with the new budget the starting salary would increase by $8,500. Kelsey also suggested increasing all officer’s salaries by $8,000 for equity among those currently employed by the department.
To pay for the proposed salary increases, which would cost approximately $961,601, the city is considering a 2-3% utility rate increase.
The City of LaGrange is not alone in its recruitment struggles. Sheriff James Woodruff said the Troup County Sheriff’s Department currently has seven patrol deputy vacancies. He said the starting salary for new deputies is about $42,000.
“We’re going to have to have to look at it too,” Woodruff said. “Now that LaGrange proposal is going to go to $60,000 a year. I have already had some deputies express an interest in leaving the county and going to the city because that’s an automatic $18,000 a year raise just walking in the door.”
“I think we’re going to have to look at raising our starting pay to be more competitive as well,” he said.
According to Indeed.com, the average police officer’s base salary in Georgia is $43,620, which is 8% below the national average.
A base salary of $60,000 would put the LaGrange Police Department near the top of the state. The Atlanta Police Department pays starting salaries of $54,979.60 to $64,318.72 for lateral move police officers.
The move would certainly put LaGrange at the top locally. The Georgia State Patrol pays new troopers $52,350. Hogansville pays new officers $19.50 per hour, which is about $40,560 annually.
Hogansville City Manager Lisa Kelly said the city is looking to add two new officers in their proposed budget and they are currently down one code enforcement officer.
West Point City Manager Ed Moon said the starting salary at the West Point Police Department is about $40,000. He said the department is currently down a few positions they would like to fill, but that’s not abnormal.
Across the border in Alabama, the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office has a starting salary ranging from $39,399.36 to $50,758.
Carrolton, which is often compared to LaGrange because of its similar size, offers a starting salary of $48,252 for certified officers.
Larger nearby cities, Newnan and Peachtree City, pay their starting officers $50,123 and $52,920 respectively. Peachtree City pays $58,000 to $70,000 for experienced officers. WSB-TV reported in April that Peachtree City was raising its starting salary for police officers to $58,880, but when the LDN inquired Friday, it was given $52,920 as the pay number.
LaGrange Police Chief Garrett Fiveash said he believes the increase will help get new officers in the door but having a quality department helps with retention.
“I think that it not just a matter of paying more salary,” Fiveash said. “I think that’s what captures people’s attention. But I think providing good equipment and good training and having a quality department to work in and working under an administration that looks after its employees and its officers. I think that’s what keeps people.”
“That money is not always a long-term fix, but certainly helps these days when you have certified officers going from department to department chasing money,” Fiveash said.
Fiveash said the increased salaries would also allow the department to hire more experienced officers that they don’t have to train.
“I think we can get back to the point where we can pick and choose again like it used to be here many years ago,” he said.