TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Increased pay to retain members of the Florida Highway Patrol is a top legislative priority of the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Pace Callaway, a research economist with the department, told members of the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee this week that a $24.4 million funding request for next year is intended to make pay for state troopers more competitive with local law-enforcement agencies across the state.READ MORE: CBS4 Investigates: Man Accused Of Killing Ryan Rogers Could Have Faced Two Decades In Prison For Prior Crime
“Right now, all of their pay raises are based on the Legislature, and we have been lucky enough to get pay raises over the past few years,” Callaway said.
“But one thing that we continually hear about is, ‘Where are we going to be in 10 years, 15 years.’ And that’s something that we can;t offer that most local (police departments) and sheriffs can.”
Callaway said the number of vacancies at the department has grown from 198 in August to 238, “and most of the time it’s due to a lack of pay.”READ MORE: Glenneisha Darkins Perseveres During Art Week Despite Challenges
The current average pay for a state trooper is about $45,000, while the average pay for troopers in all states is about $53,000, Callaway said.
Lawmakers will piece together a 2022-2023 fiscal year budget during the legislative session that will start Jan. 11. Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, said lawmakers will need to determine a “living wage” for state troopers.
“It’s interesting that a Delaware state trooper — which Delaware is about the size of Polk County in this state — they start at $63,000. And it just keeps getting worse every state you look at,” Hooper said.
“So, the day to pay the fiddler may be here if we’re going to keep a highway patrol and not be the training grounds for the sheriffs and the local police agencies.”MORE NEWS: New Warning For Parents Regarding Omicron COVID-19 Variant
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