Mayor Randall Woodfin has promised Birmingham police officers a raise in the city’s next fiscal year.
“Officers are feeling a considerable amount of pressure over not being appreciated,” Woodfin said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, which was attended by several “concerned” off-duty police officers.
Woodfin mentioned stressors on the police department, including smaller recruitment classes and growing retirement rates, as well as the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not just our police,” he said. “Our fire department, public works and general service employees all feel the pinch. (But) what’s unique about these men and women that you see (here) is that they were not afforded the opportunity to take off over the last two years. They were not afforded some other things other employees received because they’re on the front line of public safety. As an administration, I know this council (agrees). We as an administration agree, they deserve a raise. They’re going to get a raise.”
Woodfin stressed that “there’s only so much I can do in the middle of a fiscal year,” which will end July 1. “But in the meantime, I’m looking to solve for what I can do prior to July 1, and I look forward to bringing that to the council,” he said.
The mayor’s comments were echoed by several members of the council, including District 2 Councilor Hunter Williams. “It is obvious and apparent that while a lot of employees of the city of Birmingham got to work from home during the pandemic, that is not something that any of our first responders were able to have the luxury of doing,” he said. “I know (police) would like to answer a domestic (call) from home via Zoom, but that just isn’t a possibility.”
Council President Pro Tempore Crystal Smitherman brought up the prospect of a pay raise for police at the council’s March 8 meeting, arguing that the BPD was struggling with attrition to higher-paying municipalities.
“Our police need more help,” she said. “At this point, I don’t even care what the activists have to say about me saying this. I’m asking for a raise for our police. Our police are leaving because we are not paying them enough. We have to take (care) of our public safety workers at this point … . We’ve got to make sure our public safety workers are incentivized to make sure they stay here.”