Hagerstown City Council approves salary increases for police department

Maryland

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Hagerstown City Council has unanimously voted to approve salary increases for union and nonunion police department employees.

The mayor and council met in special session on Thursday for presentation from Mark Chaney, Hagerstown Police Department support services administrator, and Police Chief Paul Kifer.

The council voted unanimously to pass two motions which approved the modified pay scales as of Jan. 11. The first motion will raise salaries for regular full-time, sworn, nonunion Hagerstown Police Department employees, and the second for those who are part of the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME union.

In the session, Hagerstown Police cited that the department has been losing officers over the years. They also highlighted that the salary for officers in Hagerstown is lower than all of the agencies they are losing officers to by at least $2,000 per year.

The salary range for the Hagerstown Police Department is currently $40,106 to $62,326, the lowest starting and ending range for the area. The new range approved by the council is $40,106 to $68,580.

Chaney explained that the department does not have issues with hiring people, but instead with getting them through training and keeping them on the force afterward. In the last six years, he said the department hired 51 people and lost 64, 25 of which went to work for other police departments. 

He said when someone leaves, it can take up to two years to hire a replacement and train him or her adequately enough to be on his or her own. Many who leave cite pay as the reason for not staying, he said.

Chaney also stated that the average cost to train one officer is about $70,000 which includes salary and academy costs. That money is essentially lost when the employee leaves after a short period in Hagerstown. He also expressed that the Hagerstown Police Department cannot continue to be the “training academy” for other police departments.

The cost of the increases will be paid for as a result of internal savings within the police department for the remainder of the fiscal year. Some of the cost will come from reducing the number of authorized officers from 112 to 104.

Negotiations for the salary increase began in January of 2020 but were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic until December of 2020.

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