CLAYTON, MO — The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday gave unanimous final approval to a pay increase for county police officers that will average about 30 percent per officer.
The raises make up a significant part, about $19 million, of the $46 million a year expected to be raised from the Proposition P tax hike that voters approved in April.
The vote came with no debate, a marked change from contentious council meetings concerning police pay earlier this fall. After the 6-0 vote, a crowded council chambers broke out in applause.
The measure was for patrol officers and sergeants only. The council also granted preliminary approval for raises for officers ranked lieutenant and above; a final vote will be next month.
“It’s rather life-changing for our members who are officers in the department,” Matt Crecelius, business manager for the St. Louis County Police Association, said after the meeting. “The real winners are going to be citizens of St. Louis County, who will see a much better-rested, much better-trained officers and higher-qualified recruits.”
The current wage scale for St. Louis County police patrol officers starts at $48,256 base pay per year and tops out at $70,980. But unlike other collective bargaining agreements that give officers raises based on their years of service, the county officers’ agreement doesn’t compel the county to increase pay until there are additional revenue streams — such as the one provided with the passage of Proposition P.
The average pay for a St. Louis County patrol officer has remained stagnant at roughly $51,000.
Dozens of officers who have worked for the county for 10 years still earn $48,256 in base pay. Those officers will see their base pay jump to $68,848 — a 42 percent increase.
After Jan. 1, officers will start at $52,208 and then earn 80 cents more per hour every year thereafter. The new scale tops out at $77,168 for officers who have served the county for 15 years.
County Police Chief Jon Belmar has said the measure would allow his department to hire and retain officers. The department has consistently claimed that it was losing officers to higher-paying departments. The county police department has 850 officers.