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Altavista Police Department to raise salaries of officers

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Published: May. 13, 2020 at 9:40 PM EDT
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"Unfortunately in a small department when you have vacancies they're magnified because of the number of officers," said Thomas Merricks, Altavista police chief.

The Altavista Police Department continues to serve even when times are tough.

Located inside the Altavista municipal building, the police department has seen numerous officers leave recently.

For six of those officers, it was because of two things:

"The pay and take-home cars," said Merricks.

Merricks says the department isn't in the position right now to allocate take-home cars to officers.

However, in a decision made in Tuesday's town council meeting, a bump-up in pay was decided on.

"We're hoping that what we have to offer will help us and put us in a good light in recruiting people and keeping people," said Merricks.

On July 1, the new salary structure will begin.

Before, the minimum starting salary for a certified officer was just under $37,000.

Beginning in July, after field training is complete, an officer would start with $40,000.

However, that money doesn't come without a cost.

"I never like to lose slots, but I had some slots that were open, and in order to pay for this and to help out the rest of the department, we're going to give up one slot in our force," said Merricks.

It's a decision that was hard to make, but Merricks says he's happy it was done quickly and with town council supporting the department.

"I'm blessed, lucky to have them behind us. I think it's going to be a step in the right direction to helping us recruit and retain officers," said Merricks.

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