What Motivates Salisbury Police to Jump Ship to Other Agencies? Why Does City Council’s Latest “Possible” Pay Raise Lack Appeal?

Posted on March 27, 2017

RFP Staff

♦ After interviewing several veteran Salisbury Police officers and four who hiked to other law enforcement agencies, we got a very clear picture as to why City Council’s latest “possible” pay raise lacks appeal and what motivates Salisbury Police veterans to jump ship to other agencies. We’ll tackle the “possible” pay raise first.

Under the pay plan favored by city council members, minimum pay for new Salisbury police officers would only be $3,282 less than the same rank in Charlotte Police Department, according to a spreadsheet presented by Chief Stokes.

This is AFTER a 15% pay increase. “That option would increase minimum pay for new officers by 15% from $34,224 to nearly $40,000 a year” And still be $3,282 per year LESS than Charlotte. This isn’t a step forward, this is a desperate Hail Mary to stay in the same arena. And this is “base” pay, how does this apply for officers with experience? Most departments award experience to retain their best officers. Do we have a comparison of what a 5, 10, 15, and 20 year patrolman’s average pay is for surrounding cities as compared to Salisbury? If not, why? Isn’t the goal to stop the large flight of experienced officers to other agencies? Are we attempting to “fill the spots” without any effort to maintain experienced officers? Doing this continue to leave us as a “training” agency. Salisbury recruits new officers, gives them that first year or so of experience where their actual contribution is severely limited by experience and allows other agencies to pick them up without the loss of training time.

We’re talking the maximum proposed 15% pay raise. What’s the likelihood of actually going with the maximum when you factor in the city’s Fibrant depleted budget? A proposal of 100% would certainly make Salisbury extremely competitive paywise, but that’s not going to happen. We can all agree 100% is unaffordable, but what IS affordable? What with the desperate economic condition Fibrant debacle has dropped on the city? 15% is probably more than the city can currently afford to pay. In reality this plan is likely to get a “feasibility study” and abandoned after the November election. That’s city hall’s favorite play. If we “further study” it through November we can claim to be “addressing” the problem right through the November election and drop it as unaffordable. How many times has city council reached into that playbook?

It’s salary increase is “proposed”. The police department “proposed” educational incentives for over 25 years before implementing any compensation for degrees. How long will this proposal take before adoption? Do we really want to wait 20 years to adopt a raise? The city might be removed from road maps by then.

In the past the police department bumped starting pay to attract new recruits without increasing veteran officer pay. This results in wage compression and ultimately turnover of veteran officers leaving to seek more appreciative employers. Veteran officers who made less than the new starting pay were brought to base pay with compensation for their experience. They were told they “shouldn’t worry what new officers make” An officer with 3 – 5 years experience making exactly what a rookie makes is a morale killer despite City Hall’s order to walk it off.

Pay raises are beyond needed, but will they come with increased costs of insurance that greatly reduce the pay raise? A 15% raise while jacking up monthly insurance premiums puts a financial hurting on an officer. Who wants to work under those conditions?

Does this raise eliminate the merit raise for the year? If so, doesn’t that lower motivation to remain? In the past a cost of living raise meant NO merit raise for the year. Does this plan intend to account for this? (I suspect you know the answer).

Across the board pay comparisons can be easily made. Public employee salaries are obtainable from any local government at no cost by a simple request. Has this been done? If so, what are the results?

With recent talk about officers in the Salisbury Police department “possibly” getting a much needed pay raise, its important to discuss why Salisbury Police officers avoid staying with the Salisbury Police because of other reasons besides lousy pay:

The agency is managed Zach Kyle, Assistant City Manager, who has no law enforcement experience. He has created a toxic environment. Former Chief Collins, in his sworn deposition, testified a mere written reprimand was beyond his authority and required Kyle’s approval. This is unheard of in normal functioning police departments.

The agency is grossly understaffed (It’s alleged by current and retired officers that approximately 19 to 20 slots are empty) and leaves officers without backup or support in an extremely dangerous city. The last police chief in Salisbury before Stokes admitted a 75% turnover under his watch. This trend appears to be ongoing.

The high rate of attrition is primarily among senior personnel. The loss of experienced officers means field training is practically meaningless. How much can a rookie officer teach another rookie? The budget cuts virtually eliminated outside training beyond that required for certification.

The former chief, who admitted under oath to be a twice daily oxycotin user, established a management team in his style. Is anyone pleased with the current state of the PD? It’s very unlikely to change when a management team, trained in the exact methods that failed, remains in place.

Remember the last pay raise?:


The reputation of the Salisbury Police Department was severely damaged over the last few years. The evidence room, Chief Rory Collins deposition admissions, Salisbury’s soaring crime rate, and our ranking as the 9th most dangerous city in N.C. added to Salisbury’s incredibly bad reputation. Experience at a failed department will not carry the weight of experience at a successful department. Why work for less while getting less credit from it?

And know this if you attempt to find work elsewhere after a term as a city employee you stand getting a negative report when a future employer calls and asks about you. Working for Salisbury is a kiss of death on both cheeks.

The former Chief and present Chief alienated large parts of the Salisbury community the department serves. Why work for an agency who turned large segments of the population against you before you ever begin? Work elsewhere.

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