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Police association: Officers are leaving Roanoke for better pay

Roanoke Police Association asks City Council for pay raise

ROANOKE, Va. – As the Roanoke Police Association continues to battle for better officer pay, it now has new numbers to support the fight.

A new pay study compares officer salary in Roanoke to salaries at other local agencies.

Chris Levering has taken the pay study to city leaders to ask for raises. It’s a passion project for him, as he’s served the Roanoke Police Department for the last two decades.

"It’s frustrating. You put a lot of work into it. You leave, you come to work every day, you work hard every day, you put your life on the line every day," said Levering, who also serves as the Roanoke Police Association president.

He said officers aren't getting paid what they deserve.

"We make less than other jurisdictions, and we have more crime than they do," Levering said.

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"We have guys that are leaving us that have been there for 10 to 15 years and going to other jurisdictions that are making more money," Levering said.

An average of 31 officers have left Roanoke every year over the last three years.

"You’re perpetually training guys. You get guys to a phase where they can do a job on their own, no problem at all, and they leave and go elsewhere," Levering said.

Levering said the pay gap between rookies and veterans is getting smaller.

"I don't make that much more than a recruit in the academy right now," Levering said.

He's taken his fiscal frustrations to City Council, and so did 10 News.

"I would love to see that increased over time and I think that's how we've got to do it. I think we've got to do it incrementally and make sure that we stay on level," Roanoke Vice Mayor Joe Cobb said.

City Manager Bob Cowell sent 10 News the following statement:

"Law enforcement officers will in the upcoming year, provided the budget is approved on May 20th as I have recommended, receive a nearly 3% pay increase. I continue to welcome further conversation by any city personnel regarding concerns they may have about their compensation, though as with any City expense it must be balanced against the reality of the funds we have available. This year we were fortunate to be able to meet our on-going expenses, enhance certain services and continue to increase funding toward the City Council's top two priorities - education and community safety. I look forward to continuing to work with the City Council in ensuring that the compensation we offer our employees is competitive, fair and justified and that it continues to enable us to deliver the services our citizens expect."