in Houston, Texas
Texas trooper pay lags that of local police, auditor finds; $51.5 million price tag to bring salaries in line
Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012, 12:11PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Texas state trooper

Your state Auditor has a plan to pay a competitive wage to state law enforcement officers, and all it is going to cost taxpayers is an extra $51.5 million a year.

That is, if the next Legislature likes the idea. Past experience suggests taxpayers might be less receptive.

The maximum base pay for the 4,428 officers in the Department of Public Safety, Department of Criminal Justice, the Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Parks and Wildlife Department lags by as much as nearly 25 percent, on average, compared to the seven largest municipal law enforcement departments in Texas, according to the Auditor’s report, released today.

They are the police departments of Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Department.

The average maximum base pay for officers, corporals and detectives in those departments is $74,543 or 20.6 percent more than the $61,793 average maximum for those ranks in the state Department of Public Safety.

DPS sergeants make 18.6 percent and lieutenants 20.2 percent less than their urban counterparts. The maximum base pay of $84,427 for captains is 24.3 percent less than the  $104,971 for the police and sheriff’s department captains.

The Austin Police Department offers, by far, the highest maximum base pay for each rank, followed by Fort Worth and Dallas. (Please see the chart on page 9 of the report.).

To bring those state salaries in line with the metropolitan average could be accomplished by paying out an additional $51.5 million annually, according to the Auditor’s report.

The Department of Public Safety has asked the Legislature to approve a plan that would involve a change of job classifications and pay increases at an annual cost of $41.5 million, the report says.

If the Legislature were to consider increasing state pay based on mid-range rather than maximum base pay, taxpayers would have to spend $33.7 million a year, the report says.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of a Texas state trooper writing a ticket by flickr user rschroed, used via a Creative Commons license.

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