Council votes to establish pay raise for full-time police officers

Published 4:49 pm Friday, July 26, 2013

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Jemison Police Officers will now be eligible for pay raises after the Jemison City Council passed an ordinance establishing pay grades for full-time officers.

“The purpose and importance of this pay scale is for recruiting and retention of good quality employees,” Jemison Police Chief Shane Fulmer said. “This will provide incentives for those currently working in the department and enhance the services that we filter down to the citizens of the city.”

The city approved roughly $20,000 from the police department budget for the pay scale that will be implemented on Oct. 1.

Everyone in the department will receive a pay raise and the new “pay grade” scale established by Fulmer will increase 3 percent for each pay grade completed.

“The importance of this pay scale is we want to have the very best people we can get,” Fulmer said. “We don’t always want to be selecting from the bottom of the barrel when it comes to quality and experience with police officers. To have current employees know they can always do the right thing and strive to increase their level of training and education and know that there will be incentive for that is a great thing.”

There are currently 11 officers employed at the JPD who will now receive pay incentives for completing certified training such as a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related field, a reserve program director or completion of an associate’s degree in criminal justice.

Fulmer said a police officer is not required to complete certain levels of specialized training before being hired but the pay scale will now provide incentive for the officers to do so.

“We have a few officers who don’t have a college degree or don’t have a certified training but they will now,” Fulmer said. “They might not have wanted to go ahead and get the training because it isn’t something you have to do to fulfill your duties as a police officer, but if you want to reach beyond your normal scope then you will receive an incentive.”

The Jemison City Council passed the ordinance during a regularly scheduled council meeting on July 15, but the police department pay scale has taken several years before officially being passed.

Fulmer credits Mayor Eddie Reed as being an instrumental part of why the ordinance was passed this month.

“This has been a work in progress since right after Mayor Reed took office in 2004,” Fulmer said. “We have looked at this for a while and here we are finally at the point of getting it passed.”

According to the ordinance, for a police officer to receive a 3-percent increase in pay upon completion of a pay grade step, the 3-percent increase will not be attached to the salary until the following January of each calendar year.

The first step in the pay grade scale for a new hire will start at the first pay grade scale for the class of position hired, which is a base salary.

Fulmer said he organized the pay grades to increase from the first pay grade scale 3 percent for each grade an officer completes.

Fulmer included 15 pay grades in the scale including a pay grade for a captain of the police department.

“I went ahead and included pay grades for about 30 years,” Fulmer said. “I was looking at the next 20-30 years and for promotion purposes and wanted to create a standard and guidelines to make things easier.”

Fulmer said more cities including those in Chilton County have adopted a pay grade scale including Clanton Police Department and Thorsby Police Department.

“Each city has a different way of doing it and after looking at several different models I thought this would be the best model for the city of Jemison,” Fulmer said. “This allows everything to have a set of guidelines that makes it easy to follow. This way we don’t have to sit down and try to figure out what a certain person should be paid. You now have all of the ranks listed out and can follow them easily.”

The ordinance will also not allow more than two officers to be specialized in a certain area of training at one time and Fulmer must approve the certification, along with the city of Jemison, mayor and council.

“This prevents the department from having everyone become a firearm instructor,” Fulmer said. “The biggest thing is retaining quality employees. We have a good group of guys and they do a great job. This ordinance will allow everyone to benefit from the pay scale.”