Your Views: It’s time for fair public safety pay

Your Views: It’s time for fair public safety pay
Alexandria police officers packed into city council chamber's rows on March 12. (Photo Credit: Alexa Epitropoulos)

To the editor:

I have always supported maintaining competitive salaries for our public safety employees, and have written so as a member of the city’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee.  To be fair, budgets are ornery and complex.  Priorities are difficult to sort out, demands from various stakeholders great and they require year round attention to manage properly. I do not envy the city manager or members of council when it comes to preparing, prioritizing and managing the city’s budget.

But my advocacy for fair and competitive compensation for police and other public safety departments extends far beyond the difficulties of preparing meaningful budgets or my membership on advisory committees. It comes from serving a career in the Alexandria Police Department and watching this fight about fair pay predictably, and unfortunately, repeat itself over many years at the expense of exceptional men and women who serve our city with distinction every day.

Many of these dedicated public servants will ultimately decide the fight is not worth it. They will simply take their talents to departments next door for more pay, as they have in past years. This is unfortunate. Revolving door staffing is harmful, costly and detrimental to maintaining continuity in the delivery of public safety services in any jurisdiction, particularly Alexandria.

The time to act is now.  Failing to act decisively and proactively in a city long committed to fundamentals of good government – such as public safety, education, infrastructure, community engagement and innovation – should concern every fair-minded resident of our great city.

-David P. Baker,

Former Alexandria police chief