Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday a five percent raise for all sworn state law enforcement officers. While announcing the pay raise at Miami's Florida Highway Patrol headquarters, Gov. Scott admitted the agency's low pay is a challenge.
"You have to keep working to try to improve this. You got to continue to grow our economy so we can provide more compensation to our law enforcement, which deserves it," Gov. Scott said.
State lawmakers approved the fiver percent raise in this year's budget and the agency hopes the legislature passes another five percent raise the following year.
Starting salary for an FHP trooper, with the added five percent raise is $35,700. This is significantly lower than the $51,000 salary a rookie for Fort Lauderdale Police Department receives. In Coral Gables, the starting rookie salary is even higher at $53,600. However, first-year Jacksonville police officers earn $38,100, which is still higher than the state law enforcement salary rate.
The agency's director Col. Gene Spaulding admits that retaining troopers is a challenge because of the low pay.
"They obviously want more money. They want to be competitive. We lose a lot to other agencies that pay higher salaries. We don't want to be at the top of the spectrum on salaries," said Col. Spaulding.
Currently, FHP is short about 200 officers and some regions are down dozens of troopers. Some troopers complain that low staffing levels during their shifts is putting themselves, as well as civilians, in danger.