OHP seeks raises for troopers to make pay competitive in state
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Sunday, December 02, 2012
12/02/12 at 7:53 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is seeking raises for troopers in an effort to make their pay more competitive.
Capt. Pete Norwood, legislative liaison for the state Department of Public Safety and Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said a significant number of law enforcement agencies in the state pay more than the OHP.
Pay is a factor in the recruitment and retention of troopers, he said.
The starting pay for a cadet entering the OHP academy is $33,192, Norwood said. That figure increases to $38,000 once a trooper graduates and hits the highways.
Other law enforcement agencies pay as much as $42,000 to $43,000 for cadets entering their academies, Norwood said.
Norwood said the OHP's goal is to be able to pay equal to the average of the top three law enforcement agencies in the state. However, a figure for how much that might be was not available.
A recent survey indicated the OHP was 15th among state law enforcement agencies in pay, Norwood said.
The Highway Patrol is authorized to have 925 troopers but employs only 776, Norwood said.
"We have well over 222 guys that can walk out today," Norwood said. "They are retirement-eligible."
The OHP recently resumed its cadet academy following a hiatus resulting from budget cuts.
In 1995, the agency had 2,000 applicants, Norwood said. The figure dropped to 636 for the most recent academy.
Public Safety Commissioner Michael C. Thompson said the agency is looking for recruits who want a career instead of a job. It is looking for people who want to serve the state for the next 20 years, he said.
Thompson said he was pleased the Legislature provided funds so that OHP could resume its academy.
According to an Office of Personnel Management annual compensation report for fiscal year 2011, employees in the Department of Public Safety, which includes the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, were paid nearly 5 percent more than DPS workers in the seven surrounding states.
The report did not specifically evaluate trooper salaries.
But Norwood said Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers make less than those in surrounding states.
State troopers get step pay increases until they hit seven years of service, Norwood said. After that, their pay stays the same unless they are promoted.
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is also seeking pay increases to retain correctional officers.
Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones said he didn't think his agency would be competing with others such as the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for funds to increase pay.
He believes the Legislature will look overall at making pay competitive, retaining employees and overall compensation.
Jones said state employees are coming up on a seventh year without an increase.
The last state employee pay raise was in 2006.
Original Print Headline: OHP seeks pay parity for troopers
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465