DUNBAR, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It’s a problem that’s plagues the Dunbar Police Department for years: police officers leaving the department only to head to a neighboring city for better pay.
But city leaders think they have a solution: pay raises. They said it’ll make them more competitive and keep the officers they pay to train in town.
For the Dunbar Police Department, keeping officers on staff can be a challenge.
"We’ve had officers that I've hired, we've had them sometimes less than two years,” Dunbar Police Chief Earl Whittington said. “They move on to another department."
City Council heard first reading of the ordinance for pay raises at Monday night's meeting. Leaders said they’re able to give raises because the city and revenue are growing, so the extra money is available.
That comes as welcome news for police and firefighters. Whittington said officers are leaving town for better pay. He said what’s frustrating is the city invests a lot of money and time to get these officers trained and hired.
"We're a training ground for other departments that ends up being, we lose,” Whittington said. “We spend all the money investing, and then another department hires them in and within a short period can put them on the road as a fully trained police officer."
But Dunbar Mayor Jack Yeager is hoping to change that. Council is looking to give pay raises to both the police and fire departments for the first time in nearly three years.
"We've lost a lot of police officers to other cities, and it's very important for us to be competitive," Yeager said. "So I think these raises with our other benefits will make Dunbar competitive with the other cities as far as police officers are concerned."
Raises for police depend on rank, but firefighters are looking at 45 cents an hour. Those who are also EMTs will get a little more.
They're raises police say are an investment to the city’s future.
"It's kind of like a pay me now or pay me later program,” Whittington said. “If we don't invest in the police and fire now, then we're going to constantly lose police and firefighters. And if you constantly lose those people, it's more costly to replace them than it is to pay them a competitive wage."