SANTA FE — The head of the Santa Fe police officers union said he is satisfied with a city proposal to increase officer pay, although he can’t disclose the amount just yet.
Santa Fe Police Officers Association President Tony Trujillo said Tuesday that the city has proposed a pay raise that he is happy with. He couldn’t disclose the amount because the negotiations with Mayor Alan Webber and City Manager Erik Litzenberg haven’t been finalized, but Trujillo said they could be done by mid May.
A city spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The proposal that has been laid out for us is an immediate impact to a problem that we’ve had for many, many years,” Trujillo said. “It’s a start, and that’s all we’re asking for.”
With 23 vacancies at the department, the city wants to stop officers from leaving for other departments, like the Albuquerque Police Department, and state agencies for higher pay. Trujillo said the pay raise on the table now may not stop officers from leaving, but it certainly will help recruit potential officers.
In January SFPD officers were promised a $4,700 retention bonus for officers who agreed to stay past June 30 as a new contract was negotiated. At the time, Trujillo initially told the Journal the bonus was a “slap in the face,” but he later supported the bonuses, which were approved by the City Council.
SFPD officers currently start at $19.11 an hour, but a starting officer in Albuquerque earns $29 an hour.
“They (potential officers) don’t apply to an agency blind,” Trujillo said Tuesday. “They do their homework. They find out what a department is paying. I think it’s going to attract a lot more new-hire people.”
Trujillo also said that the officers who agreed to the retention bonus were happy with them.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t like it,” Trujillo said. “We were told it was going to be something it turned out not to be.
“We are appreciative of the efforts of the mayor and the city manager to make this happen,” he said.