Lumberton council considers better pay for officers

By Mike Gellatly -

Wayne Horne

LUMBERTON — The Lumberton City Council will discuss adjusting the pay scale for police officers as a way to combat attrition when it meets Monday.

Council members, meeting as the Council Policy Committee, on Wednesday gave City Manager Wayne Horne authority to institute a program aimed at improving the retention of Lumberton police officers as they gain experience. The program now must be approved by the full council during a regular meeting.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the council chambers at City Hall.

Under the proposal, officers would be given pay increases as they gain certification. Officers in North Carolina can go through basic, intermediate and advanced training that involves hands-on experience and classroom training. The new career ladder approved Wednesday offers a 2.5 percent pay increase for intermediate training and then a 5 percent bump after advanced certification is acheived.

“It is a plan for when we are recruiting new officers, they will see that they get a step here, a step there and they will get credit for these different certifications,” Horne said.

Both Raleigh and Durham’s police departments recently instituted policies aimed at slowing the loss of officers.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, this is something needed long ago,” said Councilman Burnis Wilkins, a career law enforcement officer.

Wilkins says officers who have gained experience in a department such as Lumberton can be lured away by higher pay and lower call rate. He described the intermediate and advanced certifications as a “huge amount of work” which officers take part in through their own initiative.

Certification requires a mixture of years of full-time law enforcement experience, classroom training and college-level academic work. The standards require less academic work for more experienced officers and less experience for officers who hold degrees from accredited colleges.

Intermediate certification requires a two-year associate’s degree, 360 hours of classroom law enforcement training and four years of experience. Advanced certification requires a bachelor’s degree, 480 hours of law enforcement training and six years as a law enforcement officer.

Wilkins believes that the pay increase could immediately benefit about 40 police officers.

At Monday’s meeting, the council is expected to:

— Pass several measures to repair damage done to the Electrical Utilities Department by Hurricane Matthew.

— Approve closing a portion of 27th Street through the end of the year so Southeastern Regional Medical Center can finish expanding its heart center operating room.

— Approve Southeastern Health’s request to add three signs on the 200, 400 and 500 blocks of 27th Street.

— Approve Doherty Holdings Sixth LLC’s petition for contiguous annexation of property on Dawn Drive in Lumberton, where there are plans to place a Kia dealership. The property sits between Southeastern Health Medical Park and Lumberton Ford.

— Approve the payment of $176,000 to the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency for renewable energy development and service.

— Adopt an addition to the nuisance ordinance for Lumberton related to household debris. The additional paragraph refers to accumulations of household items in and around a structure if it is deemed that they have become health and safety hazards.

— Approve allocating $1,000 in community revitalization funds to help send Rowland Norment Elementary School students to the Raleigh Museum of Natural Science, Arts and History.

Wayne Horne Horne

By Mike Gellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

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