Letter: Incentives are great, but police pay is still too low

Posted 10/14/21

Last week’s you featured a story about how our town's police department is attempting to incentivize officers in order to combat the problem of recruitment and retention of personnel, which is …

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Letter: Incentives are great, but police pay is still too low

Posted

Last week’s you featured a story about how our town's police department is attempting to incentivize officers in order to combat the problem of recruitment and retention of personnel, which is a problem not unique to Bristol, and is also happening statewide and nationally.

And while I applaud the department for trying ideas such as offering specialized training opportunities, providing state of the art equipment, and giving officers the opportunity to ride motorcycles, handle therapy dogs, and work as school resource officers, those things do not mean a thing when an officer has bills to pay.

You can give an officer the newest and shiniest police car, but that does not pay a mortgage. You can dress your police officers up in uniforms that make them look like they just stepped out of the pages of GQ and Vogue magazines, but that does not help with a car payment and grocery bills. And you can send police officers to every school imaginable and become brain surgeons, but that does absolutely nothing to help them start a college fund for their children.

The bottom line here is that the pay for police officers in Bristol is embarrassingly low, and the police chief highlighted that fact in his interview with the Phoenix last week. And while the police chief can advocate for higher pay for his officers all he wants, and the town administrator can beg for additional money for police salaries when he prepares his annual budget requests, it ultimately comes down to the Bristol Town Council, who has 100 percent control of the purse strings.

And while current and past town council members constantly fall over each other in heaping praise on our police officers, when push comes to shove and it comes down to dollars and cents, they are nothing more than disingenuous and hypocritical politicians using their bully pulpit to praise the police officers simply to pander for votes.

And while I do not expect our current town council to change their penny pinching ways anytime soon when it comes to paying our town’s police officers what they are worth, I take some solace in the fact that the elections of next November are right around the corner, and hopefully the residents of this town will vote these council members out of their current positions and replace them with council members who actually value the dedication, bravery, and professionalism of our officers, instead of simply providing lip service.

Mike Proto
Bristol

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