SALTILLO • The Board of Aldermen raised the base pay for city policemen and will allow officers to take patrol cars home at night.

Following a discussion in executive session, the board voted Tuesday night to increase the base pay for officers from $14 per hour to $15. They also agreed to allow officers to take their patrol vehicles home at night, as long as they live in Lee County.

“We’ve had a real problem over the years keeping officers,” said Saltillo Mayor Rex Smith. “They will stay for a little while and then go to a bigger department.

“We are trying to do something to help retain the officers once we get them on the force.”

The salary increase will bump the base pay more than $2,000 annually, to just more than $31,000. The new figure will apply not only to new hires but current officers as well.

Aldermen also tweaked the existing policy on taking home patrol cars. In the past, the policy was to only allow officers who lived in town to take home patrol vehicles.

“Now we will allow them to take their vehicles home if they live in the county,” Smith said. “It won’t be that big a deal. All of our guys live within 10 miles of the city. When I drove it the other day, the longest was just over 8 miles away.

“We hope the move will allow for quicker response times. If something happens, the officer will be able to go directly to the scene, rather than going to the police department and then driving across town to the scene.”

The officers will only be able to use the city vehicles to go back and forth to work. They have to be full-time officers and they have to be in uniform when in the car.

Those stipulations will prevent the officers from using the car for personal business, like running errands or going to church, Smith said.

william.moore@journalinc.com

Twitter:@WilliamMoore_DJ

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