CRESTVIEW — The City Council has reached a consensus to approve Police Chief Tony Taylor’s request for 8 percent departmental raises.
The council met Aug. 20 at its last budget workshop before the 2014-15 budget will be formally presented for action. The city’s final $29,078,286 budget was accepted.
Taylor is cautiously optimistic.
“I’m not counting my chickens yet,” he said. “I have all the confidence in the world that the council members will approve it now that they reached a consensus. The worst that could happen is a 3-2 vote.”
For officers such as patrol shift supervisor Sgt. John Cook, a 13-year CPD veteran, news of a likely raise came as an answer to many a fervent prayer.
“We’ve all been praying for this,” Cook said. “Officer retention is a huge thing for us. In order to get a good caliber officer, we’ve raised our standards. But in order to keep that caliber person, the pay has to be on par with local agencies.”
Cook said after Crestview taxpayers pay between $14,000 and $18,000 to hire, train and equip a new officer, it isn’t uncommon for the new officer to leave for another law enforcement agency.
“We’ve been constantly struggling to retain officers, and most of the time that’s a pay issue,” Cook said. “They’re not leaving because they’re disgruntled. They’re seeking higher pay.”
“It’s pretty elementary,” Taylor said. “I had to stop the revolving door. It wasn’t that the officers didn’t want to be in Crestview. They had a responsibility to their families.”
Cook said he was speaking on behalf of his fellow officers when he offered “a high-five to the chief.”
“We’re just grateful we have a chief that’s pulling for us,” Cook said. “In past administrations, we haven’t had that. We’re grateful to him initiating it (the raises), taking a stand for us and seeing it through.”
To go into effect, the 2014-15 city budget first has to be presented at public hearings and receive two readings before council members vote to approve it. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.