City Council approves premium pay for JPD corporals, sergeants

Jackson Police Department
Jackson Police Department(WLBT)
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 12:31 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Months after it was first approved by the Jackson City Council, corporals and sergeants with the Jackson Police Department will soon receive their much-anticipated premium pay.

However, captains and lieutenants with the Jackson Fire Department will have to wait a while longer while council members work to address concerns raised by the fire chief.

Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance to award $4,000 in premium pay to JPD corporals and sergeants.

The ordinance will go into effect in 30 days, meaning officers should begin receiving the pay in mid to late February. They will receive the payments in installments, every two weeks.

The move will essentially raise officer pay to $45,000 for corporals and $48,000 for sergeants.

However, the council amended the ordinance to remove JFD captains and lieutenants, so the council can address premium pay concerns raised by Fire Chief Willie Owens.

Owens asked the council to expand the premium pay to include other veteran responders, including deputy chiefs, level 2 firefighters, and relief drivers.

“Deputy chiefs... respond to all fires and a lot of first aid calls... not all, but a lot of first aid calls,” he said, speaking to the council remotely.

Initially, the council set aside $5.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars to give premium pay to Jackson police corporals and sergeants and their equivalents in the fire department.

The move was made, in part, because senior officers did not get a pay raise in 2020 when the council raised base pay for new recruits.

At the time, many veteran officers were upset because they had not gotten a pay raise in years.

As part of the 2021-22 budget, the council found $1 million in unused city dollars to increase pay for JPD corporals and JFD lieutenants to $41,000. Another $5.7 in ARPA money was set aside to increase pay by another $4,000.

For months, the council and administration have been working out the details on how to award the money in line with ARPA regulations.

Owens, meanwhile, recommended that the premium pay be spread out among all veteran firefighters, with each one receiving a little more than $2,100.

In addition to worries that some veteran firefighters not receiving the pay, Owens said the council’s cap on how much officers could receive meant that some captains would receive more than others.

“It would cause a morale problem,” Owens said. “When we were in a committee meeting, we made the suggestion of everybody getting the money, and everyone was in agreement with that, even if it caused them to get less because they know this is the only fair way to do this.”

Ward 2 Councilman Angelique Lee and Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes said they were inclined to agree with the chief.

Banks, though, said reducing the amount already promised to officers would also hurt morale.

“When somebody’s told you, ‘Hey, you’re going to get $4,000 (premium pay) based on a decision we made in October,’ and you’re expecting a certain amount and it’s going to be cut back,’” he said. “You’re going to create a bigger morale issue because you have more captains and lieutenants.”

JFD has 182 captains and lieutenants, council members said. It was not known how many personnel would receive the pay if members adopt the proposal recommended by Chief Owens.

After about an hour of discussion, the council approved premium pay for police officers. A portion of the ordinance awarding premium pay to firefighters was referred back to a council committee.

Council members now plan to bring in the chief and other fire personnel to discuss the matter further.

A date for when that meeting would occur has not been set.

Said Banks, “If we’re going to do this... we really need to hear from the men and women throughout the fire department.”

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