LPD to receive wage increase as City tries to stay competitive
“We have a basic problem of supply and demand,” said Lehi Chief of Police, Darren Paul, when asked about the recent departure of several Lehi police officers to the newly formed Riverton Police Department.
“Utah is growing so fast, and there are many cities that are all trying to recruit and hire officers to their force. Enrollment numbers at many police academies has been down, so the supply of officers to hire is lower,” Paul said. Riverton City recently decided to leave the Unified Police Department and start own police department in July. They are hiring many officers to fill positions and have recently recruited from Lehi’s force. “Five of Lehi’s officers have joined Riverton,” Paul said.
“We have a challenge, like many other Utah cities, to keep up with the population growth and to recruit more officers,” said Paul. “We try to be competitive with hourly pay and benefits.”
“Lehi’s pay range for Level one officers is in alignment with like-sized cities like Orem and Provo. Our officers get paid better than Provo officers and a little less than Orem’s,” according to David Kitchen, Human Resources Director for Lehi City.
Lehi officers to receive wage increase
Starting in July, Lehi officers will receive a ten percent increase in wages. Seven percent of that increase is for a market adjustment and three percent will be performance based. The rate increase will be effective on the first full pay period in July, according to Cameron Boyle, Lehi City Assistant City Administrator. “That increase will put Lehi wages higher than both Orem and Provo for now,” said Kitchen. Pay for level one officers currently is $20 per hour and will increase to $21.40, Kitchen said. “To stay competitive, we are constantly evaluating our compensation and benefits packages and looking at what other police departments offer in Utah and the nation,” said Kitchen. Besides the hourly rate, the city also has an “above average benefits and retirement package” for officers, said Kitchen. “The $21.40 per hour makes us very competitive statewide,” said Paul.
In an anonymous letter to the Lehi Free Press, from “Citizens of Lehi City,” concerns were expressed over the loss of officers to Riverton City, morale in the police department, and that “Lehi Police Department Administrators are getting paid astounding yearly salaries.” To address some of the concerns addressed in the letter, Kitchen confirmed that: “Our [Lehi City] Chief of Police’s pay is $119,845 while Orem’s chief receives $143,831 and Provo’s $135,583.” Some of that compensation is based on the number of years of being on the job as the chief. Paul has been chief of police in Lehi for about four and a half years.
“Pay appears to be better in Riverton,” (although, actual figures were not available) said Chief Paul. “And there are probably opportunities for advancement in a new police department that an officer might not currently have if they stayed here. We are sad to lose some of our experienced guys and we are hoping the wage increase will help keep those officers–especially those with four to six years’ experience in Lehi,” said Paul
“I guess there is a certain allure of going to a new police department,” said Boyle. “With pay probably being a big factor and the opportunity for rank advancement in a new police department another factor.”
“It is possible that morale can be down a bit,” said Paul. “Our guys work in teams and rely on each other and when one leaves the force, it takes a while to build back that rapport with a new team member. We are working to integrate officers onto teams so that they can build the trust needed for the team to work together successfully.”
Lehi currently has 53 officers on the force and plans on hiring two new patrol officers in July, bringing the total to 55. With the five officers leaving, the chief has decided to terminate three “fringe” positions–officers who are working on task forces outside of Lehi– and pull them back into the department to work in the city. Part of the salaries from those eliminated positions will help fund the wage increase. “We will continue to grow our patrol team with the two new officers and will end up having 52 officers in total in our department in July. We will be fully staffed for what we are funded for,” said Paul. “We still plan to have one officer dedicated to each of the high schools and one officer who will split time between the two junior highs.”
“Even with these adjustments, we will still be growing our patrol team and focusing on traffic concerns. We found a good solution to our staffing challenges and with the wage increase, we hope to see fewer officers leave Lehi,” said Paul.
“Based on data about crime rates, calls, response time and type of crime, we feel Lehi’s police is in good shape with the number of officers we have hired,” said Boyle. “We do have some growing pains, but, I guess, those growth challenges are also a product of our success. We are constantly evolving and evaluating and will continue to do so to try to stay competitive with wage and benefit packages in the state, so, we can hire the best officers as we continue to grow,” added Boyle.