Archive for Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wage increases slated for police and firefighters

July 31, 2010


What they make now

Here’s a look at current pay ranges for several police and fire positions in Lawrence:

Police officer: $40,478 to $51,807

Detective: $53,113 to $78,848

Firefighter EMT: $40,597 to $57,365

Firefighter Paramedic: $43,996 to $62,167

Fire Lieutenant EMT: $48,023 to $67,856

Fire Lieutenant Paramedic: $52,043 to $73,538

Wage increases of up to 6.5 percent for some police officers and up to 5 percent for firefighters are on tap for 2011 under new pay contracts that will be debated by city commissioners on Tuesday.

Commissioners at their weekly meeting are set to conclude multimonth negotiations with the city’s police and fire unions. The new one-year contracts would produce wage increases that generally are higher than what’s being provided in the private sector, but some city leaders said they believe the contracts are fair.

“These are areas where we have a lot of risk to lose good people who get recruited away by other departments,” City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said. “We are dealing with competitive forces here, and we have a lot invested in the training of these employees. We want them to stay with us for their careers.”

The contracts provide different pay increases depending upon experience and other factors. Here’s a look at some key provisions:

• All police officers will receive a wage increase of 1.5 percent at the beginning of 2011. Police detectives will not receive the general wage increase because the city contends detective salaries already are at or above levels seen in area communities. The average yearly wage for a Lawrence detective is $77,749.

• Both police officers and detectives will receive either a 2.5 percent or 5 percent wage increase on their anniversary date, based on their evaluations. But if they already are at the top of the pay scale for their position they won’t be eligible for the merit/step increases.

• Firefighters will receive on their anniversary dates either a 2.5 percent or 5 percent merit/step increase, based upon their evaluations. Firefighters who are at the top of their pay scale, however, only will be eligible for a 2.5 percent increase.

The end results of the two contracts are that all firefighters are likely to receive wage increases of at least 2.5 percent and all police officers will receive wage increases of at least 1.5 percent. Some detectives will receive wage increases of 2.5 percent to 5 percent, but those who are already at the top of the pay scale won’t receive any wage increases.

As for police officers who will be receiving increases totaling 4 percent to 6.5 percent, city leaders contend that number will be relatively small. Exact numbers weren’t immediately available, but the larger raises are for force members who have been with the department for less than 8 years, said Mike McAtee, leader of the Lawrence Police Officers Association.

The leaders of both the police and fire groups — which technically aren’t unions because their members are prohibited from striking — said the contracts were fair because they gave incentives to employees to remain loyal to the city. They said the city has strong reasons to reduce turnover in fire and police departments because costs to train new employees are high.

“You want people who are going to hire on and retire,” McMillen said. “We want 25- to 35-year employees because when an emergency happens, you don’t want an entire crew of one- or two-year guys.”

The wage increases for police and fire — the city’s only two unionized groups — are significantly different than those for nonunionized city employees. Employees outside of police and fire will be eligible for increases from a merit pool that will grow by 1.5 percent over 2010 totals.

Chestnut said the negotiations did include some discussion of whether any wage increases should be given to city employees during such tight economic times. Chestnut said the fact the city was able to come up with a way to provide raises without raising the property tax rate was key.

“If that wasn’t the case, we would be having a different conversation,” Chestnut said. “I think the increases are a recognition that as a group they have done a good job of controlling costs for the city.”


igby 7 years, 10 months ago

Dam that's almost as much as a judge get!

No wonder the crime rate is up when these $80,000 per year cops do even get out of the station house unless there's a murder. Lol

KSManimal 7 years, 10 months ago

"The wage increases for police and fire — the city’s only two unionized groups — are significantly different than those for nonunionized city employees. Employees outside of police and fire will be eligible for increases from a merit pool that will grow by 1.5 percent over 2010 totals."

United we bargain, divided we beg.

And before you union-bashers jump in the fray...on a Saturday morning as you sit in your jammies enjoying your might do a bit of research on the whole concept of "weekend"....and see who got it for you.

kansasredlegs 7 years, 10 months ago

Funny how them Union guys think... Teamsters at UPS bargained for fat salaries for its drivers (Over $100k per year) and its union "leaders", while the workers, i.e., loaders / unloaders, now make less per hour in 2010 than in 1993 and have worse medical insurance. UPS used to provide "free" family coverage for its workers, even part-timers, but thanks to the Unions looking out for the haves, the havenots (slaves) get less in return. That's what Unions do for you now days, besides steal your money and ante it up to lame politicians while its leadership gets rich of those doing the real grunt work. So, flip the question - who gives them USP drivers them fat salaries? The same union paying grunt, that's who... Where's your sympathy for them.

btw: It was the Communists / Socialist that got US workers the "weekend" and benefits you brag that the Unions got. Read up on your history and you'll learn that all these changes occurred at a time when America was scared to death of those two animals. But keep patting yourself / tooting your own horn if it make you feel better.

irvan moore 7 years, 10 months ago

i think the police and fire department people should be on a different pay scale than the rest of the government employees. it is important to retain well trained (read cost a lot of money to train them) policemen and firefighters. if you ever need one you will be glad they are here.

Alceste 7 years, 10 months ago

It is high time Lawrence adopted a set of parietal rules such that ALL firefighters and police people are required to reside within the City Limits of Lawrence.

kernal 7 years, 10 months ago

Ditto to Informed's question. I'm curious as to why you think that?

Hawkeye74 7 years, 10 months ago

Smitty question for you. Who are these officers that you have talked to? I wonder because it seems like if you said "this ex-officer said this" then maybe Mr. Chestnut could do exactly what you're asking. Or at least someone could.

rousseau108 7 years, 10 months ago

Let's not muddy up Smitty's rant with facts or anything. We can all throw around anonymous people in whatever field applies to the story and claim we've talked to 'these' people. Or we can spout claims such as it's LPD's corruption that has delayed the city auditor's report. Let's not let facts like the auditor's own statement to the contrary get in the way.

weeslicket 7 years, 10 months ago

from smitty: "Commissioner Chestnut, have you interviewed the exiting officers who choose to move on? They are not leaving due to the wages. These officers that I have talked with have left due to the internal politics, the wide spread and well known LPD corruption."

neutral questions here:
does the city conduct exit interviews?
and if so, do we ever learn anything from them?

kansasfire911 7 years, 10 months ago

Alceste-Be careful for what you wish for. Some departments require that, for obvious reasons, i.e. mass cassualty event, report for duty when called in for O.T.. Another reason is because the union, like the one I belong to IAFF Local 64, has a strong voting power within the comunity.

50YearResident 7 years, 10 months ago

Unions are "arm twisters" and "intimidation users" and force their wage increases with threats of walk-outs and no services. Tell me I am wrong if you can.

kansasfire911 7 years, 10 months ago

Police and Fire can not strike. Better get used to it since we signed the collective barganing bill into law.

Alceste 7 years, 10 months ago

kansasfire911: Unions are good things.

Parietal rules should be applied to any and all who work for the City of Lawrence as well as for Douglas County. Too, Lawrence needs an earnings tax, much like KCMO and many, many other communities across the Nation. How many people work in Lawrence; spend not dime one here, but use the roads, the water, the trash services, and all other manner of services etc., etc., etc., and then flee to Topeka, JoCo, Leavenworth County, Franklin County, etc., etc., etc. at the end of the day??

Thinking_Out_Loud 7 years, 10 months ago

Far fewer, Alceste, than the number who work in Topeka, JoCo, LVCO, FRCO, etc. etc. etc. and then flee to Lawrence at the end of the day.

Both earnings taxes and parietal rules are solutions in need of problems.

kansasfire911 7 years, 10 months ago

Well I work for KCKFD and I still spend money in Lawrence. does that help? Unfortunitly I have to live in the Dotte, but thats the small price I pay for a job I love.

CHKNLTL 7 years, 10 months ago

Can't we finish the DEPT AUDIT BEFORE any wage increases occur? Don't we want to get what we pay for out of our government staff? Suppose someone who receives a raise should actually receive The Boot......Let's stop kidding ourselves here.

sherbert 7 years, 10 months ago

Wow. I know we need to remain competitive, but at a time when most people I know have lost a major portion of their income, I hate to see tax increases to give people a raise. They should just be happy they have a paycheck.

pace 7 years, 10 months ago

Well, the part where Chestnut didn't say just how he had done that. Did he say, we will blame the property tax rate increase on the tax money the city sends to the Chamber or use money saved from slashes in service quality, money saved from budgets for infrastructures. What disappeared?

pace 7 years, 10 months ago

Well, the part where Chestnut didn't say just how he had done that. Did he say, we will blame the property tax rate increase on the tax money the city sends to the Chamber or use money saved from slashes in service quality, money saved from budgets for infrastructures. What disappeared?

over_par 7 years, 10 months ago

You have to pay the police and fire better than the rest of the employees. The cost and time its takes to hire, train and have them become good is worth the extra pay. Hearing lots of reports lately that if you look at our crime stats and the number of police we have, we better pay them more.

fearsadness14 7 years, 10 months ago

why the hell aren't we doing the same thing to keep our teachers? I've read many articles on the LJW, and heard many more stories of quality teachers heading to the suburbs of KC to get an extra 10K a year.

pennyless 7 years, 10 months ago

In most suicide by cop situations, police officers have a tough time mentally dealing with such situations. Kudos to Sgt. Bordman for putting his training into play and thwarting such a knife attack!!! It is sad Mr. Sevier was depressed and intoxicated on that day, ultimately making the decision to end his own life at the hands of the police officers who were there to help him that day.

IndusRiver 7 years, 10 months ago

No, Smitty isn't the only one who knows what he's talking about. He does know what he's talking about. A lot of citizens (along with the good cops, too) leave for the same reasons Smitty talks about.

Some Police here are like terrorists. Eventually everybody wants to get out of this town 'cause it can make you sick.

pace 7 years, 10 months ago

The commission should create a citizens Review Board. It would help the police and the community. The inhouse, insular nature of Olin's department is just not healthy. The department and the community would be better off with more transparent.

kansasredlegs 7 years, 10 months ago

LKPD has its own Internal Affairs investigation office; however, the officers are assigned to it for a specified period of time. At the conclusion of the appointment, one must return back to the Street with regular patrol. It's kind of like the fox guarding the chicken coop. The Citizen Review Board has no authority and is a feel-good program with no substance.

pace 7 years, 10 months ago

Sorry there is no citizen's review board in Lawrence. There is a board appointed to fulfill federal regulations for review of complaints of racial profiling. That is different. A citizen's review board could have power and is never an inhouse board. An interesting site that discusses both sides is

monkeywrench1969 7 years, 10 months ago

I think a previous poster said this, but I will repeat it. I don't know how anyone who has not training and time as an officer could effectively review the actions of a police officer in a high stress situation.

It would be like me trying to advise a NASA expert on how to get to the moon or tell him how to train an astronaunt.

Hudson Luce 7 years, 10 months ago

There are quite a few occupations besides law enforcement in which high-stress situations are regularly encountered. Anyone who has served in combat knows about high stress situations, so ex-infantrymen could be qualified to be on such a board. Doctors, lawyers, EMTs, and others could also serve, but to create an elite class of people for such a board would be a mistake, because in reality, everyone has to deal with high stress situations over the course of their lives. To limit such a board to law enforcement only would foster a continuance of current police culture, especially in a small town like Lawrence. The object is to get LKPD to change its policies and standard operating procedures, and that change must be driven from outside of LKPD.

IndusRiver 7 years, 10 months ago

And it always hurts this town when the good cops leave because then we realize what we had but once they're gone nobody - nobody even dreams anymore. There are no better days ahead, no nothing, no town, no good people, they're long, long gone. And you miss 'em. It's almost like you can feel exactly when they left.

IndusRiver 7 years, 10 months ago


Corruption has gone on for so long here that people just don't recognize it for what it is. You have to understand, Lawrence is a perfectly-rigged town.

ghostofrealityspeaks 7 years, 10 months ago

Smitty, you are right on about the benefits package not beig discussed. It's acutally called the "skills incentive pakage" and all officers are eligible after a certain number of years employed. What the public does not know is that these extra pays result in an officer's salary reaching 66,000 and higher. Over 90% of the patrol officers have reached this pay level. The pay identified on the front page of LJWorld is very misleading and one could say just plain wrong.

Food_for_Thought 7 years, 10 months ago

Really? Show me proof. How many years does it take for an officer to reach the top of his/her pay scale? Now, how many officers on the department have that many years of tenure? I'm willing to bet that the "90%" figure was pulled out from the same area that rests on a chair when you sit down...

IndusRiver 7 years, 10 months ago

So you are claiming that any good, ethical federal or state attorney wouldn't see corruption when confronted with it? Guess my imagination or paranoia doesn't reach you or smitty's level.

I'm saying you wouldn't see it in THIS town.

rousseau108 7 years, 10 months ago

You mean like the old mining towns where the workers had to live in dorms provided by their employer and could only shop in the company store? Why should someone have to live here just to work here? We should make certain groups do this but not others? So we would rather drive qualified employees away just because they don't live in the city where they work. Who cares where they live, as long as they're on time for their shift it doesn't really matter.

monkeywrench1969 7 years, 10 months ago

I wondered how long it would take with a story about the police and Smitty and her bringing up the shooting with Greg Siever.

If you examine the article closer, it sounds like ALL the fire guys are getting a pay increase, but only some of the cops and detectives are. Why aren't people slamming the Firefighters, asking for an audit of their total time working, whether they have second jobs to supplement their costs, if they should live in the city. IMHO fire fighters never have to be confrontational with the public like parent trying to enforce the rules. Everyone hates their parents at some point. but most people like them when they aren't in trouble for something.

I would be interested in the total cost of training and equipping these officers from the time they begin to the time they retire.

Are the officers getting the higher wage increase not on the average with officers in the areas around us like Johnson County, Topeka and Kansas City. How many calls do the officers take a year compared to other cities in our area. Can the LJWorld get a number of reports taken by the cities in Kansas and KC area. I would like to see the numbers. Are we getting our money's worth or should we ask more out of these guys.

Did I read it correctly the detectives who are at the top of the pay scale not get a raise. Sounds fair since they get paid higher than the cities around us. How are the cops being unreasonable if only some of the people get raises. All the firemen are getting raises. Are they above or below the average.

monkeywrench1969 7 years, 10 months ago

What does where I was born have anything to do with it. It is obvious I had to make a point otherwise you would not go straight to the name calling.

slang4d 7 years, 10 months ago

Well, if you ask my former police chief father, firefighters are overpaid and over-utilized. That's actually a nice interpretation of his opinion...he would probably use the words "hate" and "worthless." I trust his experience when it comes to this topic and think that cutbacks aren't a bad idea. Without knowing their current pay and actual hours though we can't really speculate on whether or not their pay raise is warranted.

jeffcores 7 years, 10 months ago

I have to deal with LPD officers, Lawrence Firefighters, EMT's/Paramedic's and sheriff's officers on a daily basis. They all provide a valuable service that many people could not or would not want too. They deserve compensation for the jobs that they do. The only thing that I would like to see the city investigate is the fire department going to 12 hour shifts instead of 24. I think it would increase the departments productivity greatly!! Many of us would like to be paid to sleep - whether it's during their 2 hour lunch break, over night or during their weekend down time. I realize that it's not all the time they get such luxury however, they are the only group that gets that option. LPD officers work 8 hour shifts, the sheriff's department both patrol and corrections work 12 hour shifts. Why because they are needed 24 hours a day - times have changed for the fire department. They aren't just waiting for a house fire anymore - they now provide a valuable medical service to the community and are needed 24 hours a day. To have increased productivity out of the fire department 24 hours a day 7 days a week would be positive addition to the city. It's amazing how many emergency medical personnel not on the fire department complain about the attitudes of the firefighters/paramedics when they are woken from their sleep. Again, it's only human to want to sleep and I understand that. 24 hours is a long time however, if they worked 12 hour shifts they could be accountable for all 12 hours and certainly give the city more bang for it's buck.

Chad Lawhorn 7 years, 10 months ago

Mike McMillen, president of the Lawrence Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 1596. Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

stitson47 7 years, 10 months ago

I suspect I will see you at the next recruitment process since its such an easy job.

monkeywrench1969 7 years, 10 months ago

I may sign up the next time that's good pay. I could probably put up with all the name callers here and in the public.

Food_for_Thought 7 years, 10 months ago

It's funny how certain people on here rant about corruption, but can never manage to cite specifics or point out tangible evidence that can't be argued. Who typically hates the police w/o reasonably explaining their reasoning behind such feelings? Criminals and their families. "Corruption" is a generalized, blanket statement that no one here has even come close to proving. Allusions and delusions are all I've seen here (and on other pages). Smitty claims to know of all this "hidden corruption" first-hand; however, if the City lacks transparency, like you claim it does, then you'd obviously have to be an employee with some sort of "privileged" status to be able to know of all this corruption, right? Or are you getting your information from the men in tinfoil hats? Better watch out for those black helicopters...

slang4d 7 years, 10 months ago

Considering these are the two kinds of city workers who essentially risk their lives for the public good, the pay increase should not offend anyone. My dad was a police officer, a well-educated one at that with a graduate degree and FBI training. After fifteen years with the same department he wound up in a wealthy city an hour away from our hometown. The pay and promotional opportunity drove him there. If you want solid and loyal officers, pay them well!

stitson47 7 years, 10 months ago

Obviously the police department does not negotiate very well...The firefighters start out more than the police officers and earn approximately $6,000 more a year.

Police officer: $40,478 to $51,807 Firefighter EMT: $40,597 to $57,365

Not to pit one against the other, but it is funny how much of this blog is against the police officers when the firefighters are making more money. It goes to show a police officers job is a thankless one and everyone loves the firefighter... Either way, I wouldnt want either job...shift work, holidays, missed family events, and government bureacracy are all unpleasant work conditions...

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

Police and Firefighters to the citizens of Lawrence: Why are you whining just because you can't make ends meet? Tough tatas. We deserve to make more, because we are special, because we have a union, and because our bosses can take money from you for our benefit at the point of .......our guns! You want to complain? Try it! We will take you down.

monkeywrench1969 7 years, 10 months ago

Oh man they came to my house guns drawn kicked the door and stole the money I was going to use for my kids lunch money. The cops made me stand in place while the firemen sprayed me with water and I got a really bad wedgie. Very Very uncomfortable.

Oh sorry, from your post I thought you were just being sarcastic

Duane Mellenbruch 7 years, 10 months ago

I know where our Fire Chief and school board member, Mark Bradford's position has been in relation to teacher salaries. I guess it's not surprising that he is not speaking out on this issue. Lost teachers to surrounding, higher paying districts wasn't a problem. Losing firemen to surrounding districts apparently would be a bigger problem.

I'm not against paying firemen and policemen what the market calls for, but this would be an obvious discrepancy . . . .

hispath1 7 years, 10 months ago

why doesn't ljw do a survey about what the public thinks about the proposed wage increases for police and fire fighters?

earline james 7 years, 10 months ago

That, maybe, the private sector is hell on earth?

IndusRiver 7 years, 10 months ago

So you are claiming every official and office holder is this town is either corrupt or incompetent? Sorry, but I strongly disagree, have feeling that if corruption existed, someone would provide some proof, not just wild unsubstantiated claims.

In the first place, you're the only one leading yourself down the garden path here. Lawrence is a corrupt city, and I never said ALL are that way, but there's a nest of 'em. They have been named on this board, some of them, but you don't read, you rant like a fool instead. That's your fault.

There is proof, but how is to be posted here without being able to scan documents? You tell me, brain.

IndusRiver 7 years, 10 months ago

arranges for the data to support the mistake.

This is one of the ways that I have seen fraud carried out where I live.

"Loyalty" will never be bought as long as it means 1. Do as your told and 2. Keep your mouth shut.

IndusRiver 7 years, 10 months ago

Report something, and you're homeless in this town.

monkeywrench1969 7 years, 10 months ago


Does anyone know how much it costs to train a police officer and is it cost effective to train the person and lose them to another agency. How long does it take to train them and get them to out on the street working. Is it that big of deal to lose someone. If it does not cost that much to training.

StephHawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Monkey, Reading on their website, a new hire goes through a 24 week training academy and 12 weeks with a field training officer (on the job training). That is 36 weeks (roughly nine months) of training before they are on their own so that would equal out to approximately $30,000 per recruit. This obviously does not take into account the amount of money it costs for all of the instructors wages, equipment purchases (gun, armored vest, flashlights, leather gear, coats, uniforms, etc.) I think a reasonable person could assume it would cost us over $50,000 per recruit before they are on their own. Expensive?? Yes...but remember, they are trained to do a job that few would do. A friend reminded me that police officers wear a variety of hats when working - psychiatrist, medical first responders, mediators, lawyers, and politician. We train them in all of these aspects and expect them to make quick second decisions when faced with the unknown..

monkeywrench1969 7 years, 10 months ago


Thanks for the numbers. If you do the math for a class of 10 new recruits the estimate for one class is $500,000 which I am assuming would take at least a year to really get their feet wet and do some good. Now some may argue that is too much money for ten people. I know the city has yearly thrown at least $500,000 plus toward the "T" to keep it running for an extremely small group of people. If they think the "T" is important enough to maintain, why shouldn't they find it important to retain quality people who can benefit 70,000+ people.

I have always wondered why people would hate on people who have to enforce the rules. I have always believed it is because they either break them themselves or have a close friend or family member who they are worried would break the law.

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