North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick signed new two-year contracts with the North Little Rock Police Department Thursday.
Starting in January, entry-level police officers will make $48,000 per year. In 2024, the entry-level annual pay for a police officer would be $49,440. The current entry-level pay is $42,240, according to the city's finance office.
An officer's pay increases based on years of service. According to the contract, an officer with a minimum of 15 years of consecutive service with the city can earn $69,000 in 2023 and $71,070 in 2024.
For supervisors, the annual rate in January will be $80,800 for sergeants, $88,800 for lieutenants and $98,800 for captains. In 2024, the rate goes up: $83,224 for sergeants, $91,464 for lieutenants and $101,764 for captains, according to the contract.
Individuals may make more, based on several factors, including educational attainment and being bilingual.
"Our signing a contract for another two years is very, very important," said Hartwick at the North Little Rock Justice Center, where the city held a public signing for the first time.
"I wanted to do it so everybody can see how we get along and how in some of most people's darkest days, they have to step up and do their job when most people just can't comprehend."
Capt. Brian Dedrick, who heads the department's investigations unit and who is president of the North Little Rock Police Department Supervisors Association, said issues with recruitment and retention of police officers have been ongoing for the last few years across the country.
"Our City Council approved a raise that we negotiated with the city and the mayor's office and not only did this help bring new officers in and help bring salaries up for the newer officers, but it also focuses on the salaries for older officers and more senior officers so that we keep them here," Dedrick said.
Detective Michael Gibbons, who is president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said every officer appreciates the city's "nonstop support."
"We can't ask for a greater community than what we have here," he said. "The love and respect they show for the officers, the support they show for the officers is beyond any other community in the state, if not country. By signing this contract, increasing benefits, it does help the officers, but it's not all about that. It's just truly about the family that we have here, the love we have and the way our community supports us. Without the community, we're nothing."
The Police Department currently has 245 officers. There are 39 non-uniform personnel and six part-time employees.
The city's Fire Department has 166 firefighters, with three non-uniform positions. Fire Chief Gerald Tucker said about three to eight firefighters retire per year and the department currently has seven vacancies. The Arkansas Fire Training Academy in Camden hosts classes five times a year, which is part of the challenge to bring on new firefighters, Tucker said.
In 2023, entry-level firefighters will make $38,595 per year. This year, an entry-level firefighter's annual pay has been $37,471.