NORFOLK, Va. — Tuesday night, Norfolk's mayor and city council voted unanimously to approve a pay increase for all public safety employees in an effort to recruit and retain employees.
In recent months, we've seen a surge in violence tear apart our communities and countless families.
Cities across Hampton Roads have been searching for solutions. But many police departments are down officers. Norfolk is short more than 200 officers as the city deals with a number of shootings downtown.
In March, five people were shot outside of Chicho's Backstage on Granby Street. Three people died, including a Virginian Pilot reporter.
Two weeks after that, three people were shot inside MacArthur Mall. One man died.
There have been no arrests in either incident.
All this comes on the heels of former Police Chief Larry Boone's sudden retirement.
All that being said, Norfolk just approved a pay increase they hope will attract new officers and keep current ones from leaving to work in a different city.
The mayor and council voted unanimously on a pay raise for all police, fire-rescue and sheriff’s office employees. The new compensation plan includes:
- At least a five% pay increase for all sworn employees
- An additional step increase for sworn staff with at least six years of service
- Implementing the Master Police Officer and Senior Sheriff’s Deputy ranks
- Increasing starting pay for firefighters and sheriff's deputies from $43,724 to just over $47,000
The introduction of the Master Police Officer and Senior Sheriff's Deputy ranks will provide an additional pay increase.
"That’s 288 officers that are going to get about a 10 to 13% raise at the end of the day," said Councilman Thomas Smigiel.
Norfolk city leaders said this is the largest increase in public safety pay in more than 20 years.
As the police department grapples with how to get more officers in the door, one citizen went before city council asking to see a comprehensive plan, if one exists, on how they’re going to work with citizens and law enforcement to reduce violent crime.
"That would indicate what the plan is to bring the city together, all the departments together, and volunteers together to try to improve on our situation with respect to crime in the city," said William Wood.
Wood said he's emailed the mayor a few times asking for some sort of tangible plan but hasn't heard back. He said if city leaders want to make any sort of difference, they’ve got to bring the community in and steer them in the right direction.
"I think it could help everybody to kind of chip in a little more pay a little more attention and be more conscious overall of what we see every day in our community and what we can do to help," Wood said.