Pay raise for Meridian police officers to be considered

Published: Jun. 8, 2016 at 1:34 PM CDT
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Talks are continuing about salaries regarding the Meridian Police Department. However, the discussion now is not about what the chief makes, but instead about how little many of the officers take home.

The starting salary for police officers with the Meridian Police Department is $11.81 an hour. Chief Benny Dubose is leading the call for this to change.

"We ask them to risk their lives for $11.81 an hour," says Dubose.

Chief Dubose addressed the city council Tuesday with his concerns about the matter. This came amid a debate about whether his more than $83,000 salary should be cut.

According to Mayor Percy Bland, discussions about the chief's salary will likely not resurface. However, he and the head of the city council both say as part of next year's budget they plan to push for a pay increase for both police officers and firefighters within the city.

"Specifically with police and fire we want to be more competitive with municipalities in this area," says Mayor Bland. "We don't want to be the training ground for other municipalities."

The Meridian City Council approved a cost of living and salary adjustment pay increase last fall. It was given to certain city employees, including those with the police, fire and public works departments. That raise ranged anywhere from $700 to $2,000 for some employees. Two years prior city officials approved at least a $400 increase for city workers whose salary was less than $40,000 a year.

City Council President Randy Hammon says the council is already considering ways to increase salaries for officers even more.

"Absolutely, or we wouldn't have done anything about it a year ago," says Hammon. "We've just been through this, and everybody got a pay raise, and a salary adjustment. Maybe it wasn't enough, but we did do something when other councils over the years did nothing."

City officials had a comprehensive salary study for city employees done last year. The results from that Mississippi State University study were recently turned over to city officials. Its findings will be used to determine how much the salary increase for officers next year could be.