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Compensation increases approved for short-handed Roanoke police, other employees

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Roanoke City Police

Roanoke police officers patrol during the Dickens of a Christmas event near Center in the Square Friday in Roanoke. The department continues to face substantial personnel issues.

Roanoke approved higher compensation for municipal employees Monday, including steps to strengthen its short-handed police department.

All city government jobs will pay at least $15 an hour starting next month, while new recruits joining the Roanoke Police Department can get a $5,000 sign-on bonus.

These and other compensation measures were approved by the City Council on Monday. The money will come from pandemic relief grants and funds the city accumulated during the previous fiscal year because of spending controls.

The sign-on bonus for those who join Roanoke police goes along with a previously approved $7,000 enticement check offered to attract experienced officers. The goal is to fill 44 police officer vacancies.

Retention payments were also in the mix.

Current public safety employees including police officers, firefighters and paramedics – but not sheriff’s office personnel – will qualify for $1,500 retention payments if they are still on the payroll June 1. The state recently gave sheriff’s employees bonuses.

In addition, public safety workers including sheriff’s employees who were on the payroll July 1, 2021, will qualify for $2,000 retention payments if still employed Jan. 1.

Council members took turns saying they sincerely support what public safety personnel do.

“You are the epitome of an essential worker. You are always there and always have been there,” Vice Mayor Trish White-Boyd said.

The new minimum pay applies to public safety and non-public safety personnel alike, as well as personnel in constitutional offices. It was made retroactive to this summer.

The city is also giving bonuses to current non-public safety employees in the amount of $1,000 for full-time staff and $500 for part-timers.

None of the measures increase pay for city council members, the city manager or people who serve on city boards and commissions.

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Jeff Sturgeon covers the city of Roanoke, including schools, banking and transportation. Phone: (540) 981-3251. Email: jeff.sturgeon@roanoke.com. Mail: 201 W. Campbell Ave., Roanoke, VA 24011.

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