City raises salary requirements for new police chief

Updated: 01/31/2014 6:20 PM | Created: 01/31/2014 6:11 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It’s a story we broke on Eyewitness News 4 earlier in the week: Albuquerque was paying its old police chief quite a bit less money than chiefs in other western cities are making. But now, in the search for a new chief, the city has changed its tune, raising the salary ceiling to $175,000 a year. That’s $36,000 more than Ray Schultz was making when he retired last summer.

Cities like Denver, Fresno, Tucson and Colorado Springs are paying their police chiefs a lot more than Albuquerque, and Mayor Richard Berry’s administration was well aware of it.

“What we did was look at the surrounding cities in the Southwest-Rocky Mountain region and we saw that the chiefs were making anywhere from $150,000 to $225,000,” said city chief administrative officer Rob Perry.

But the president of the police union said the higher offer sends a bad message to rank and file cops.

“I think it’s unfortunate,” said Stephanie Lopez. “We were in a recession and were in a deficit year, and all of a sudden he can come out and say here’s $30,000 that I found and we need to give this new chief that’s coming in.”

The police union says brand new Albuquerque cops earn pay that’s competitive, but 5 and 10 and 15 year veterans make far less.

“You have both Rob Perry and Mayor Berry come out and say they want us to be one of the most competitively paid departments in this region,” Lopez said. “If you look at any of the surrounding cities and if you’ve done your research you can see that in the top ten we are not.”

“When we do that at the officer level see that we’re right where  we think we should be, which is  third out of about 15 cities in the Southwest-Rocky Mountain region,” Perry said.

So – is Albuquerque number three – or is it not even in the top ten?  It turns out the union and the city are using very different lists of cities to do the comparison – apples and oranges, conflict and confusion. And different databases are evidently in play for the few cities that crop up on both lists.

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