Carboro City Council Approves Police Pay Increase

Carrboro police officers will soon receive a raise, according to a resolution that the Carrboro City Council unanimously approved at its Jan. 18 meeting.

The Town of Carrboro will now offer a starting salary of at least $46,000 per year to police officers. The current minimum is around $42,900.

Police trainees have the largest percentage increase at 12%, from $33,400 to $37,400. Additionally, the police chief’s salary will now increase by 4.9%, from approximately $80,850 to $84,850.

The funds for the salary increase will come from the police budget which has already been allocated by the office of the chief executive. The overall police budget has not increased.

“At least in the current fiscal year [this] does not involve an increase in the department’s budget,” said Damon Seils, Mayor of Carrboro.

This salary increase is due to recruitment and retention problems.

Carboro Police Chief Chris Atack said the department has experienced consistent turnover, recruiting and retention issues, especially over the past year.

“We really had to re-evaluate what we were offering and how we could be more competitive to bring here the people we need who are equipped to do this job that we need Carrboro police officers to do,” Atack said.

He said the police department is working with the city manager and council to find solutions to these issues.

“When you’re missing for an extended period of time, it really changes the focus of an organization from service to crisis management,” Atack said.

Carrboro City Council member Barbara Foushee said this market rate salary adjustment is due to concerns about competition in neighboring jurisdictions with compensation. She said the pay rise would help with retention and recruitment efforts as well as police morale.

“A lot of it has to do with the competitive nature now, because we’ve brought in agents into the department and end up losing them,” she said.

Seils said there was high employee turnover and a few vacancies within the police department.

“Our manager recommended, and we agreed, that we needed to review our compensation plan for our police department,” he said.

Pay rise among fundraising appeals

The move to raise police salaries comes nearly two years after the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, which sparked calls across the country to defund the police.

Yonathan Taye, executive member of Community Justice, Abolition and Anti-Racism at UNC, said increasing police salaries was counterproductive.

“I think my colleagues at CJAA and I will agree that while the shortage of manpower and stagnating and depressed wages is a significant problem that needs to be addressed, we believe that the influx of police officers they are trying to achieve by increasing police salaries would be counterproductive to the interests of the people of Carrboro.

Foushee said while she does not support defunding the police, she understands the rationale for it.

“People who look like me are dying at the hands of the police almost daily, but I see a reason to have a police department,” Foushee said. “Certainly our City Council is looking for other ways to reinvent community and public safety.

The city council has established a community safety task force that Foushee says will help reinvent public safety in Carrboro. The Community Safety Task Force is exploring alternatives to traditional policing.

“There are instances where a gun and a badge are not needed,” Foushee said. “That’s what this task force will struggle with.”

Carrboro City Council member Randee Haven-O’Donnell said he supports the community safety task force.

“We really need to consider having a working group whose job it is to get a sense of the community, what’s there about community safety that can be moved into a relationships component community and public engagement,” Haven-O’ Donnell says.

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