These raises now allow Lawton police officers to earn a higher maximum salary than officers in Wichita Falls.
“It seems like over a period of time we’ve just significantly gotten worse and worse and worse and worse and we keep kicking that can down the road and we need to fix the problem,” Wichita Falls Police Officers Association President Sgt. John Spragins said.
Compared to cities similar to Wichita Falls and slightly bigger in size, Wichita Falls police officers make at least 17% percent less than their counterparts.
And officials with the Wichita Falls Police Officers Association say this has been going on for a while and some officers leave Wichita Falls for bigger cities.
“We’ve never asked to be at the top, but we would like to be in the average because I think it is going to create a problem eventually,” Spragins said. “When people start looking at jobs and stuff they’re gonna look ‘ok, I can go here and get a job or I can go here and get a job and make 8 or $10,000 more a year.'”
Also an option is going down the road to Lawton where officers can start out making more than $50,000 and top out at $80,000 which is higher than Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
But Sgt. Charlie Eipper doesn’t see that being a problem because most officers sign up to serve their own community.
“When you get somebody from this area if they wanna serve, they wanna serve the hometown. That’s what drew me into it. This is my hometown, my people that I grew up with and that I was supported by and I wanted to give back by being here,” Eipper said.
As the city begins budget talks for the next fiscal year, Spragins doesn’t know if a pay bump is in the works and understands that revenue may not allow raises.
But he said that public safety is a necessity.
“We’ve gotta get ourself out of the cellar and I don’t know how long it’s gonna take to do that,” Spragins said.
“If the revenue is there, I think we should do everything possible to get us into the average. That’s what I’d like to see. But the key to that is, get us in the average and then set up a plan to where we’re staying in that average.”
In a profession that can be the difference between life and death for some, police officers would like to be paid their worth for which no amount of money can suffice.