LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock City Council passed a budget Tuesday that increases starting officer salaries by 16 percent to $60,000, a move local police advocates have been pushing for years.
The increase comes as Lubbock currently pays its police department significantly lower than other surrounding cities. The average salary for a high-ranking LPD officer is $72,207, compared to $79,000 in Abilene and $93,500 in Midland. The Lubbock Professional Police Association says that deficit leads experienced Lubbock officers to leave for higher-paying cities.
“People come here to train, and then they will look around and say, ‘where can I make the most bang for my buck?,'” Texas Municipal Police Association attorney Tray Payne said. “We’ve got to keep those experienced officers here, and trained, good recruits. That’s what happens when you pay well.”
Starting pay is also lower than surrounding cities, with Abilene paying recruits 8 percent more and Midland paying 22 percent more.
The new budget will raise every LPD officer an average raise of 10 percent. But even after this new pay scale takes effect, many officers will still be almost 10 percent behind comparable cities. For example, the 12.35 percent raise approved as the maximum increase for LPD officers brings their salary to $81, 128 – compared to Midland’s compensation of $93,495 for the same position.
Mayor Dan Pope said Tuesday that he is proud of the city’s steps towards closing these gaps, and acknowledged the move was past due.
“[The budget] provides raises for our people, particularly for our police, which we had gotten behind there,” Mayor Pope said.
Local police advocates say they are happy to see the progress made, but are still interested in earning more equitable compensation for Lubbock police in the future.
“When you look at Amarillo, and Abilene, and Midland-Odessa, we still have work to do,” Mr. Payne said. “We’ve got to continue to find ways where we can cut other things that may not be as important as police services, and fire services, and first responders. Those are the basics. We’ve got to get back to the basics in the budget and make sure they are taken care of.”
Lubbock firefighters will also receive a four percent raise.