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Policemen leaving force for better paying jobs

The Sherwood City Police Department has lost six of some of its younger officers due to uncompetitive wages with other neighboring cities’ pay scales for police officers, city officials were told recently.

During the Oct. 22 meeting of the Sherwood City Council, Alderman Tim McMinn said he wants to bring a proposal to the council that would provide some pay raises to city police officers as a way of stopping the turnover.

“I know the budget committee has not met yet,” McMinn said. “But this is costing the city a lot of money when we are losing officers.”

McMinn told his fellow aldermen that it takes $25,000 to train a new police officer. His $25,000 figure was echoed at the meeting by Sherwood Police Chief Jim Bedwell.

McMinn told the council he has a plan that would provide some modest pay raises and would cost the city a total of $45,000 more per year.

“With the six officers we lost that is going to cost $150,000 to train replacements,” McMinn said.

Bedwell said some officers with less than a decade of experience on the force leave Sherwood for better paying law enforcement positions in other cities.

“This is a problem for some of our younger officers,” Bedwell said. “They see no future here. For many it is a morale issue.”

Bedwell added that there are two more officers who may be leaving the force due to what they feel is substandard pay.

“The six we have lost will cost us $150,000 and if we lose two more then that will cost the city $200,000,” Bedwell said.

Bedwell would like to see officers get pay raises incrementally after two, three, five and eight years on the force. .

Mayor Virginia Hillman said the issue could be discussed when the budget committee convenes before the end of the year to draft a 2013 city budget.

In recent years, passing balanced budgets has been more of a challenge in Sherwood. In late 2011, officials went over the budget line item by line item looking for revenues in denominations of hundreds and thousands to save in order to pass a balanced budget without seeking tax increases.

In 2013, a new expense that will need to be paid for is the purchase of new emergency police/fire radios the city agreed to buy earlier this year. The council signed a contract with Motorola to obtain them for $300,000 a year for the next five years. The city moved forward to buy the new radios because Sherwood’s current older radios will not be able to communicate with Little Rock’s system starting next year because the larger city is upgrading to digital technology.

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