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Monterey Raising Starting Pay For Police Officers

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Monterey Raising Starting Pay For Police Officers

Monterey will raise the starting pay for police officers to $18 per hour to help attract and retain more officers.

Police Chief Bill Randolph said retaining officers was never a problem in the past. However, in the last several years, the pool of certified officers looking for work has thinned out. He said the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy has temporarily waived officer training fees, making a pay bump for uncertified officers financially viable for the department.

“Some of the larger departments are paying, you know, Cookeville city has bumped theirs up, Putnam County has bumped theirs up and we try to stay competitive with them,” Randolph said. “So, it’s made it harder to entice people to leave another department to come here.”

Randolph said the city’s policy has been to hire certified officers only, in an attempt to avoid having to pay for them to receive training and certification from an academy. He said he believes smaller departments were forced to send uncertified officers to smaller, less expensive academies. This led the Tennessee Law Enforcement Academy to waive fees and stop missing out on officers from departments that could not afford their prices.

“I do think it will benefit us in the future,” Randolph said. “We have a reserve program that uncertified people can come and be part of our reserve, and I really like to hire out of it. So, I think it will improve our reserve.”

He said this opens the door for the department to hire officers who are familiar with the rest of the staff and understand the town better. He said the former price for uncertified officers was $14.50, which would be a pay cut for most people looking to switch careers and join law enforcement.

“Nobody, right now, is beating the door down wanting to be police officers anymore,” Randolph said. “So, it has made it a lot harder.”

The Monterey Police Department does not typically struggle with major turnover, but Randolph said when Tennessee Highway Patrol bumped its starting salary up last year, several officers left to join them. He said officers will be much more likely to wait out their six-month probation period and go through training at an $18 per hour rate than they would have been before the increase.


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