State legislators have agreed to review the pay scale for Indiana State Police officers this summer.
We hope the State Budget Committee members are shocked by what they find.
Earlier this year, lawmakers approved a 2 percent pay raise for state troopers. That makes a start, but it doesn’t begin to solve the problem.
The Indiana State Police should represent the very finest in Hoosier law enforcement. From what we’ve seen, the agency lives up to that reputation in professionalism and results.
But pay for state police officers does not reflect their quality.
State Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, is a former LaPorte County sheriff. He asked for the committee review of state police salaries because he worries about state troopers leaving the force to find higher pay.
Until this year, state troopers had not received a pay raise since 2007. The idea at that time was to help state police salaries keep up with other police agencies.
Over the next eight years, legislators dropped the ball for state police pay — forgetting to grant any more raises, while other state employees were receiving occasional increases in spite of a struggling economy.
Where do those years of neglect leave state police officers in relation to their law enforcement colleagues?
Not counting the raises that start July 1, a state trooper on probationary status starts at $38,444 per year and earns $40,100 after one year. The new raises will add about $800 per year to those levels.
For comparison, a probationary officer in the Auburn Police Department earns just above $42,600, according to the city’s salary ordinance, and a regular officer is paid a little more than $45,000.
A Fort Wayne patrol officer earns a little more than $44,000 in the probationary year and $49,000 after completing the first year, according to that department’s website.
The Associated Press reports that an Indianapolis police officer earns nearly $63,000 after three years. That exceeds the top of the scale at $60,000 for a 20-year state trooper.
State police officers do receive seniority increases of about 2 percent per year, which are not available to Auburn police officers. In both departments, officers can earn more by advancing in rank.
Arnold said he believes state troopers have been overlooked while the state was building up its cash reserves to nearly $2 billion, AP reported.
In a letter to the Indianapolis Star last month, a veteran state police officer from Shelbyville compared this year’s raises to “pouring a bucket of water on a forest fire.” He continued, “… I can only conclude that, while I am expected to put my life on the line every day for the citizens of Indiana, my life and service really have no value from a political perspective.”
State police officers face danger on the highways on a regular basis, but they do much more than patrol our major roads. State troopers have authority to investigate all crimes in the state. In our region, they often take the lead in major investigations such as homicides and bank robberies.
We believe Indiana State Police officers do their jobs with excellence. We hope legislators will act to put troopers’ pay in line with their colleagues from other police departments.
This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].