Photo by Diane S.W. Lee
The Colleyville Police Department recently celebrated its 20-year low crime rate. However, the department is facing challenges with recruiting and retaining police officers that could affect public safety.
“Public safety is the No. 1 concern, and with that you have to have quality officers,” Mayor David Kelly said.
Colleyville Police Chief Michael Holder said the department has seen a 15 percent employee turnover in the past year, and saw a nearly 13 percent turnover in 2009. The majority of police officers who left the department have served between five and six years.
The major factors contributing to the high turnover rate are changes in leadership and inconsistent pay within the ranks, which negatively affects the culture and morale of police officers, Holder said.
“It's obvious to us that we need to do a better job at retaining quality employees,” he said.
Holder presented a strategic initiative plan to the City Council during a May 31 work session briefing, recommending to address workforce turnover by identifying career development positions, updating training and technology, and addressing salary compensation issues.
The department has 15 officers with fewer than six years of experience and 15 officers with more than 12 years of experience, Holder said.
With officers leaving the department after the five- to six-year mark, finding replacements can be expensive. Holder estimates the cost to recruit, hire and train new employees ranges between $75,000 and $100,000 the first year.
To keep existing employees and attract new ones, Holder said they need to be fairly compensated.
According to the city's analysis:
- Colleyville's merit pay plan salary scale is between $48,610 and $65,767
- Southlake's 10-step pay plan salary scale is between $40,622 and $53,005
- Grapevine's six-step pay plan salary scale is between $48,801 and $66,052
While the pay range for Colleyville police officers may be competitive, they do not move through the salary range, Holder said.
City employees have not received salary raises since a pay freeze was implemented in 2009, city spokeswoman Mona Gandy said.
Currently, a 15-year officer earns less than a five-year officer despite the same job duties and satisfactory performance. There are only six officers who earn more than the midpoint salary range, and no officers who earn a maximum salary range despite serving more than 21 years, according to the analysis.
However, salary is not the only factor that can help improve the chances of employees staying.
“We also have to give them a department that they feel proud of," Holder said. "They have to feel like they work for a professional, progressive police department and they have to feel like they are valued and being developed as an employee.”
Holder recommended restructuring the current compensation plan for police officers. He plans to revisit with the council sometime in July with results from a further analysis and a market survey.