New Mexico State Police seek $14M for higher officer pay
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The push to hire more law enforcement officers means a push for more money.
Leaders from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety and New Mexico State Police took their requests to the Legislative Finance Committee Thursday.
They are asking for more than $14 million to make NMSP officers the highest paid in the state, with a starting salary of about $80,000 a year. That’s about a 15% pay raise.
Former NMSP Chief Pete Kassetas says he’s glad to see the administration fighting for its officers.
“State Police, the ranks are a lot harder to fill, especially with women,” Kassetas said. “In law enforcement the posts are isolated, they’re rural many times, and it’s sometimes an impact. If you have a spouse, and you get sent to a city, that doesn’t support the work they do, they may not even get to work.”
According to the presentation to the finance committee, NMSP officers will make $33.35 per hour in fiscal year 2025. That’s around $2.50 less than both APD officers and BCSO deputies.
But, if their budget is approved, their base pay will go up to $38.48, putting them on top.
Kassetas says it’s worth it.
“What do you offer someone coming out of college after getting a four-year degree?” he said. “”Hey, sign up, become a police officer’ – we’re going to strap a camera to you, record everything you do. By the way, you might get in a lot of trouble if you step outside the lines of what we train you, which does happen, and you could end up dead. That’s terrible, right? But people like – I have that calling.”
Reps are also fighting for additional pay for officers based on the years of their service – $7,500 per year to more than $12,000 based on how long they have been on the force, as a way to show appreciation and help prevent veteran officers from retiring early. It’s something both APD and BCSO offer.
An argument for making NMSP the highest-paid agency is the reach it has. It shares resources and expertise with agencies statewide.
For example, according to NMSP, in the last year, the bomb team completed 70 missions for other agencies, compared to about 35 missions for its own agency. Their SWAT team also assisted in 71 cases for other agencies.
The budget presented to the committee will go before lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session.