EC Police Officers To Get $6.5K Pay Hike After Chief Calls Vacancy Rate ‘Perilous’

EC police officers to get $6.5K pay hike after chief calls vacancy rate ‘perilous’
By Paul Nielsen The Daily Advance Staff Writer Jan 24, 2023

Elizabeth City police officers were given a $6,500 pay raise Monday night after the interim police chief described his department’s vacancy rate as “perilous” and warned the city might be forced to contract with outside law enforcement agencies to provide police protection in the city.

Interim police Chief Phil Webster told city officials that the vacancy rate for sworn officers is getting close to 50% of the force. He noted that most of the officers leaving are doing so for better pay with other law enforcement agencies.

The current city budget has funding for 64 sworn officers while two others are funded by a 2020 Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, grant.

Webster said that of 29 law enforcement agencies he surveyed around the state, including several local jurisdictions, the city’s pay for police officers was the lowest.

Following Webster’s presentation, City Council voted unanimously to raise the salaries of all sworn officers up to deputy chief by $6,500 a year. Webster will not receive the salary increase.

Prior to the vote, Webster warned councilors that if the attrition rate continued to increase the city would have to engage the Pasquotank Sheriff’s Office about “providing law enforcement coverage for the city in the future.” He said the city recently has requested assistance from the Pasquotank, Camden and Perquimans sheriff’s departments to help “manage” calls in the city.

“In my 29 years of law enforcement experience, I’ve never seen a department in such a perilous situation,” Webster said.

The pay increase will be funded by the around $620,000 in unused police salaries because of the high number of vacancies in the department. Webster also proposed to freeze six positions in the city’s next fiscal budget to fund the pay raise in the 2023-24 fiscal year that begins July 1.