RICHMOND, Va. -- A pay raise could be coming for Virginia State Troopers, correctional officers, deputy sheriffs and regional jail officers thanks to Governor Ralph Northam's proposed, two-year state budget.
If approved, it would be the largest dollar investment in public safety in Virginia history.
Under the proposal, newly-sworn state troopers will receive a 7.7% pay raise, the starting salary for new correction officers will increase by 25% and the average entry-level salary for deputy sheriffs and regional jail officials will increase by approximately 20%.
Northam's budget also includes funding to address pay compression and provide additional raises to a range of targeted officers and sworn personnel, according to his office.
The governor made the announcement Tuesday morning at the Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial in Richmond as part of his "Thank You, Virginia" farewell tour.
The announcement comes as police across the state are facing staffing shortages. In fact, Virginia State Police has 335 open positions right now.
"I know that the past couple of years have been challenging in our public safety agencies," Northam noted. "I know that the public debate over policing has been difficult. I know that even as some changes will be beneficial, it is not easy to hear your profession criticized."
One major issue the governor said he’s been working to fix is pay compression for law enforcement, meaning the bumps in pay to new officers have them earning almost as much — and sometimes more than — those who have served longer. This budget proposal addresses this.
"You’ve seen some places do better than others, but it has to do with salary," explained Brian Moran, secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. "There’s no question about that. Over the last two years, we have seen a scrutiny of it in law enforcement. So to attract the best and retain the best, you must pay them a salary that will keep them."
“The bonuses and pay raises given to public safety officials every year during the Governor’s term have boosted morale and changed lives," said Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel Gary T. Settle. "This announcement comes just in time for the holidays and will mean so much to all of the officers and their families.”
The governor said this historic pay raise for law enforcement is made possible because of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. He will make his full budget recommendation, which also includes a 10% pay raise for teachers, next week.