Following President Biden’s announcement of a $5.8 trillion budget, two labor groups that support police officers in Arlington, Virginia, are pushing their own county’s board to address starting pay ahead of its annual budget discussions.
With the Arlington County Board discussing its upcoming Fiscal Year 2023 budget, the Arlington Coalition of Police and the Arlington Police Beneficiary Association are asking the board for a 10% raise across the board once the new budget kicks in July 1. The two organizations argue for the raise in budged by claiming a lack of financial support for the department is leading to a drop off in manpower on county streets.
“We are not asking for an increase to make us the best-paid department in the area, just one to make us competitive. A 10% across the board increase would put us into the top 6 for each category, making our pay structure more comparable to the agencies that recruits have chosen over us in the recent past.”
Arlington county was one of the districts to freeze merit-based pay increases for FY2021 and FY2022 — which together would have been an 11% raise per officer. It has been widely blamed for causing officers to look for better paying jurisdictions within the D.C. area, and the issues plaguing their attempts to bring in new recruits. Challenges in bringing in new talent are compounded by the image issues police departments are experiencing across the country.
The department lost 50 employees last year; in comparison, Arlington police lost 37 and 36 officers in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The two organizations said that the force has already lost 16 officers this year, putting the department on track to over 60 officers by the year’s end.
“The national narrative on policing has made it difficult to recruit and retain officers across the nation, not just in Arlington County,” the two unions said in their joint release. “The pool of individuals willing to enter this profession has dwindled and the departments in the Washington, D.C. region are all competing for the same applicants.”
Time will tell if their pleas will be heard, as the Arlington County Board meets to discuss how the 2023 budget will look for these organizations.