CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOX) – Following months of contentious debate and numerous delayed votes, St. Louis County police officers are finally getting their pay raises.
Without discussion, the council got right to it during an early session on Halloween and passed the pay raise measure unanimously, 6-0, with 6th District Alderman Ernie Trakas absent.
The council chambers were once again packed with uniformed officers, who broke into applause after the vote was taken.
The outcome was music to the ears of St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.
“We have to protect and serve the community out there,” he explained. “And to do that we have to have officers who will want to come into this field. We also have to retain the officers that we do have, and part of that’s pay.”
He said starting salaries would immediately jump to $52,600 annually, versus the current rate of $48,200.
“Now listen, that attracts young men and women into this field,” Belmar said. “That causes these folks to come into law enforcement and say this is a career; this is not just a stopping point.”
He also said the pay matrices approved through this council vote will be “vital” to attracting and retaining the best officers available.
St. Louis County Police Officers Association president Joe Patterson noted it was a long, rocky road getting to this point.
“I like to think of it as if we took a family trip together in a big van and we were driving from St. Louis to California,” he said. “You know, there’s going to be a few bumps in the road, but I think looking back at this five, 10, 15 years down the road, we will forget those speed bumps and just realize that we all got there together.”
Up next, according to St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, will be work on the 2018 budget that gets underway Wednesday.
He said that’s when they’ll be able to implement more components from the Prop P funding measure approved by county voters in April.
“Things like two officers into a vehicle, the 110 officers that we would like to add to our police force, as well as body cameras,” Stenger said.
The raises make up nearly half of the $46 million a year that’s expected to come in via Prop P.
The new pay scale will top out at just over $77,000 a year — more than $6,000 higher than the current rate.