A room full of men packing guns confronted the City Council Tuesday evening and asked for money.
Fortunately, all of the armed men were police officers. Unfortunately, said Public Safety Director Kal O. Farr, the department's pay scale is one of the lowest of 15 Utah police and fire departments surveyed, and morale in the department is as low as the pay.Some 27 of 39 officers answering a department survey tallied Monday said they have formally applied for jobs with other departments during the past year. And 33 said they have to hold second jobs to make ends meet. Low wages are responsible for the low morale, Farr said.
To complicate matters further, the response time to calls is increasing because of growing demands for service on the police officers and firefighters in the public safety department. Farr asked the city for three additional officers to help close the gap between the number of officers available and the demand for their time.
According to comparisons with the other municipalities that have similar positions, West Jordan has the lowest starting and top-end salaries for firefighter, fire captain, fire marshal and police sergeant positions. It also has the third lowest starting and lowest top-end salary for patrol officers. Police lieutenants fared the best, ranking eighth and 12th, respectively, for starting and ending salaries.
The salary figures used in the comparison were taken from a state survey from pay scales in place between June 1987 and June 1988. The other entities in the survey are Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Provo, Clearfield, Murray, Roy, Layton, Bountiful, Ogden, Orem, Logan, Sandy, Midvale and the Salt Lake County sheriff's department.
West Jordan's statistics also show officers spend only 3 percent of their shift on lunch and other breaks. "That's illegal," said Councilman Paul Henderson. "Don't tell us, we already know that," Farr said.
West Jordan is the seventh largest municipality in the state, so the officers should rank seventh on the pay scale, Farr said.
Raises of 8 to 8.5 percent, on average, would be needed to accomplish that move, said City Manager Ron Olson.
The council took no action after Farr's presentation, but it is considering an employee association request for citywide raises of 3 percent in next year's budget.