By Kristina M. Townsend
February 01, 2006
These twenty-one officers put their lives on the line every day, twenty four hours a day seven days a week and fifty two weeks of the year. Always remember that crime doesn't take holidays. It wasn't that long ago when our Christmas morning was interrupted when my husband was called out to investigate a homicide. This is just one of many examples of how all the families are affected by the responsibilities of protecting this community.
I think that this is wonderful community that we live in; and would be saddened to know that the administration of this city has chosen not to financially support the Ketchikan Police Department. It is no wonder that other agencies from around the state target our officers and dispatchers for recruitment because it is common knowledge that they some of the lowest paid in the state.
Just this week, I was putting away Christmas decorations and just by fate I came across a transcript from Jack Pearson, our old city manager that he brought to the city council in 1993. A city wide employee market analysis, according to this transcript, shows that the city of Ketchikan is still paying the police officers and dispatchers a wage below the midpoint market value of 1993. In other words, today we are still not paying the police department their market value of 13 years ago.
The midpoint market analysis for an officer in 1993, according to this report, was $19.82, now for 2005- 2006 city budget, the police officers are at a starting wage of $19.40 while the starting wage for a dispatcher in Juneau is $19.84.
I can say for sure that the city would be embarrassed if the public were to know the starting wage of the Police Department dispatchers. These dispatchers are the lifeline of these officers on the street; and your lifeline when you need these officers, and the lifeline for your family when they need these officers. 90% of the people, who apply for a position as a dispatcher, can't make it through the training and the one's who do can barely live on what they make. Our dispatchers get the sad bragging rights to say that they are the second lowest paid in the state, even though they have the same call volume per capita as Juneau. And yet, a beginning librarian in this town makes more than our dispatchers, our lifelines.
We can all agree that it is pretty important to keep our police department positions filled with local residents. I truly believe we don't want to go through another '96 again, when we lost six of our officers to competing agencies. That's what may very well happen if this city doesn't step up to its financial responsibility towards the people who hold such an important and key role in keeping the people in this community safe. These officers have not received a raise in over ten years (Cola doesn't count). Isn't it time we show our financial support for them. Not only do these officers and dispatchers deserve our support but they have earned it.
Kristina M. Townsend
About: Kristina M. Townsend is the wife of a police officer.
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