Commentary

Stepping up

New pay scheme for police will help insure continuity in force

There is a “step pay” system for police in the new 2012-13 budget which is in the process of being adopted by the city council in a series of meetings and public hearings.

Step pay has long been used in Texas schools. It’s a complex series of pay grades which ties pay to the amount of time competent and qualified persons have been employed.

It’s certainly no secret, and no surprise, that law enforcement personnel are no different from any other profession in following better-paying jobs as they advance through their careers.

That represents a problem for small towns and counties, especially those on the edges of much larger metropolitan areas. In Rockdale’s case the geography is really stacked against us. The fast-growing Austin, Bryan-College Station and Killeen-Temple metro areas are literally one county line away.

Rockdale has been fortunate in maintaining several long-time officers at the top of its police department. But it’s a different story in the remainder of the force with a considerable amount of turnover.

Officers enter at Step 1, $37,871. By Step 3 (three years) that increases to $41,507. At Step 5 (seven years), pay goes to $45,437.

The institution of a step pay system is viewed as a step toward building some department stability to provide some incentive for good, young, officers to stay and eventually become better, not-quite-as-young officers.

It’s reasonable to expect those kind of personnel will be paid on a scale to cause them to think pretty seriously before leaving for the advantages—and disadvantages—of a big city force.

Speaking of advantages and disadvantages. As in any kind of team, the more continuity in a police force, the better off we all are. And “we” is quite literal in this case. They protect all of us.

Bottom line. They’ve got our backs 24/7. The new step pay schedule helps us to get theirs. A little.—M.B.


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2012-08-09 digital edition



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