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Pueblo Police Union secures 16% pay increase for entry-level officers amid battle with department retention

Posted at 11:40 PM, Jun 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-29 01:40:17-04

PUEBLO — Pueblo City Council approved an ordinance during Monday's council meeting increasing pay for entry-level officers, implementing a quartermaster system, and adding additional bonuses for existing officers with the Pueblo Police Department.

The ordinance is an agreement between the city and Pueblo's police union, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO) Local 537. Jimmie Quintana, the President of IBPO Local 537, said the agreement has been in the works for months after an internal survey sent to the department in March showed many officers were frustrated with pay.

"I've been here 20, almost 24 years, and probably over the past year, year and a half, we've lost more officers than I can remember, and we started losing people to other law enforcement jobs," said Quintana.

The new ordinance amends the 10-step patrol officer salary schedule by eliminating the first two steps. Instead of starting at $4,844.82 per month, entry-level officers will earn $5,656.18 per month. The ordinance also approves a $10,000 retention bonus for each patrol officer, corporal, and sergeant that will be given out at the end of July. Finally, the agreement implements a quartermaster system, which covers the cost of equipment that officers would otherwise pay for themselves.

"We're one of the few agencies in the state where when you got hired on, they gave you a badge, a radio, a bulletproof vest, and a gun. Everything else, uniform-wise, handcuffs, flashlights, everything was put on the officer," said Quintana.

The ordinance allocates $800 per year to each officer to purchase uniforms and equipment as needed. Any unused credit will expire at the end of each year.

Heather Graham, President of Pueblo City Council, said funding for the $10,000 bonuses, which totals about $1.8 million, will come from leftover American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. She said the money for salary increases will come from the general fund and the city's Public Safety Sales Tax, which was adopted in 2018. Graham said the department will pay for the quartermaster system with its existing budget.

"Right now we're seeing police departments lose officers everywhere. People or other municipalities are trying to grab them up, and if we're not staying competitive, we are going to lose those officers," she said.

Quintana said the incentives make the department's pay competitive with other departments along the Front Range. He said the goal is to recruit new officers while keeping existing personnel.

"This will hopefully allow us to bring in more people to continue to work here, to go out there and handle the calls for service so the citizens of Pueblo can feel safe knowing that we're doing our best to, you know, hire police officers and kind of give them a peace of mind that they can do that with the officers working the streets," said Quintana.

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