To the editor:
As the widow of a fallen Alexandria police officer and the mother of an Alexandria police officer, I am very concerned about the safety of our officers. The city has continued to disregard their pay philosophy, which states it will pay their employees competitively. Alexandria police are and have been the lowest paid police department in the metropolitan area, yet provide the city with exceptional service every day. The police department ranks third (behind the fire department and libraries) as how positively the residents see city agencies and programs.
My first husband, Corporal Charlie Hill, gave his life serving this city on March 22, 1989. He left behind two young sons. His youngest son, Rob, is now an officer on this department. Charlie died saving the life of a 17-year-old drug dealer.
If the city continues to ignore their philosophy and pay our officers at the current rate, they will continue to lose quality officers to other surrounding jurisdictions. How many officers can you afford to train for other departments? Of the department’s street patrol officers, 46 percent have five years or less on the force. This is a staggering figure and a huge officer safety issue.
These officers deal with the citizens every day. We need to make the investment in our officers now so they will stay to become veteran officers to lead this department in the future. The event at Simpson Park was an anomaly, and because of the abilities of the three officers involved we did not lose one life except for the shooter.
The officers the department hires are being recruited by other agencies at a higher pay as soon as they start the academy. These officers, after being trained, will look to other departments to go to. The cost to train one officer is $100,000 plus. Does the city have this kind of money to throw away?
Mayor Silberberg, council members and City Manager Mark Jinks, wake up. You need to pay fairly and competitively to keep our quality officers from leaving to go with other agencies.
– Ginny Hill-Obranovich