Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Pay What They’re Worth

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Pay What They’re Worth

What is a professional police department worth? Have you ever really thought about it in terms of dollars? Full disclosure, I proudly served as an Alexandria police officer for six years, but I was also born and raised in the city, and continue to live in the city and care about how my tax dollars are spent.

There is a proposal to include $1.5 million for addressing public safety pay issues. On its face, this seems like a win for public safety professionals, but upon closer examination, our police officers and firefighters may fall further back from where they are today. This is because our neighboring jurisdictions are looking at providing more generous increases. This would not be such a substantial issue if our police officers were not already behind in pay. Let’s consider the starting pay for several comparable jurisdictions. According to recent job advertisements, new officers in Alexandria have a starting pay of $47,863.

An examination of neighboring jurisdictions shows that Arlington officers earn $52,936, PG County earn $51,690, Herndon earn $53,266, and Fairfax officers earn $50,932. So before any increases take effect, let’s all admit that Alexandria officers have already fallen behind in pay.

Why should you care? During my career, I have worked with a variety of police departments. And I have come to appreciate a few things. 1) Alexandria Police Department is truly one of the most professional police departments I have encountered. 2) Policing in Alexandria is sometimes like being a waiter in a five star restaurant. I say this because the expectations and demands from the clientele in Alexandria are extremely high. Like in a luxury restaurant, people expect the absolute best, and will demand answers if service is below those expectations. My question is, if we expect five star service why are we paying carry-out prices?

Burke Brownfeld