WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The Wichita Falls Police Association is working to get its officers raises this budget season, and members are questioning a pay study done by the city.
On average, a Wichita Falls Police Officer makes anywhere between $4,071 to $5,371 a month.
That is lower than the state's median average.
How much lower? It depends on who you talk to; the City of Wichita Falls or the Wichita Falls Police Association.
Every year the city's Human Resources Department conducts a pay study for each department. The one for the police department showed it as six percent below the state average.
However, the one created by the Wichita Falls Police Association had the department 10 to 15 percent below.
"The numbers may be slightly different, but the bottom line is the same," Deputy City Manager, Jim Dockery said.
They are different because the city uses an adjusted fix rate that includes the cost of living, while the police association just uses the raw numbers.
President of the WFPA, Sgt. John Spragins, believes the raw numbers are a better representation because that is what recruits look at before deciding where to go.
"They are looking at this stuff," Sgt. Spragins said. "They feed off that information."
Dockery said the city feels like its study gives them the closest comparison.
"If we're gathering data from Denton, or one of the Lewisville cities, metroplex cities, the cost of living there is higher," Dockery said.
It doesn't matter what pay study you look at. They both show that these officers are not getting paid what officers are in other cities. Both sides agree that is something they want to change.
"We want the city to recognize public safety, police, and fire, the important role we play and make that a priority," Sgt. Spragins said.
Sgt. Spragins said he understands the budget process is a complicated one but added if its officers can't get paid near the state average, more will continue to leave.
"How long can the police department sustain having shortages of 10 to 15 to 20 officers at a time," Sgt. Spragins asked?
Dockery is hoping a raise this year will help put a dent in the problem.
"We want to do something for all of our employees if possible because all of the studies are showing that we're behind," Dockery said.
"We are a good department," Sgt. Spragins said. "I'll put my officers up against any. I mean they really do a great service out here. We should recognize that."
Sgt. Spragins said it would be great if they could get more police recruits and actually get rid of the number of police academies the department holds each year. Sgt. Spragins believes it would save the city a lot of money.
Both Sgt. Spragins and Dockery claim neither side is mad at the other. In fact, they're working together to address the problem.
Sgt. Spragins just wants city council and the taxpayers to know the WFPA's studies show the police department as dead last in pay compared to the cities they compete with.
The Wichita Falls City Council is expected to approve a budget in September.