OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Police wages are too low, according to some Ocean Springs Police officers. Many of them believe the city can't afford to keep them that way. They brought their concerns to the Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen Tuesday night.
"Unless we take corrective action at this time, we will lose valuable employees," Lieutenant John Flowers said on behalf of the policemen. "We are asking for a pay scale to be comparable to other law enforcement agencies within our county."
Officers said their average salary is about nine percent lower than other departments in Jackson County. They said some of the other departments in the county are considering pay raises soon, which could further increase the pay gap. They said the disparity is causing problems recruiting new officers and keeping old ones.
"What has happened is we've fallen short of other agencies and their salaries. We haven't kept up with the times, and we just need to change that," Flowers said. "We feel that the long-term goal of the department is to retain experienced officers. And in order to do that, we have to be competitive with pay. Our best resource is our people."
Mayor Connie Moran said pay raises could be on the way for all city employees. She said the city is trying to incorporate wage increases into next year's budget. Those could include cost of living increases, raises based on merit, or possibly realignment.
"[The specifics are] Depending upon a salary survey that we're expecting to receive from the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University to make sure that we're competitive, as best we can be, with other cities our size and within our area," Moran said in the meeting.
Many police officers said they hope the city will look close to home when comparing officer salaries.
"At this point, everyone loves their job, they love serving their community," Flowers said. "And its not about that. It's about fair and competitive pay."
Moran said the Board of Aldermen would take their plea into consideration.
"We all pledge to you that we will continue to support you to the best of our ability," Moran said. "Thank you for putting your lives on the line every day."
Moran said the Board of Aldermen and the Finance Committee would hold a meeting Monday night at 5:30p.m. She said the public is invited.