Veteran police officers in Killeen are trading in their badge for retirement and that is a problem.
“Some people are taking that early retirement because they are ready to move on. They want to early retire. We’re not hiring at the same rate which people are leaving,” said Killeen Police Department Chief Charles Kimble.
Keeping police officers on the force has always been a tough task for KPD.
“The slots have been budgeted for money for them we just haven’t been able to fill them. It’s a problem all the time and every city has it,” said Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra Killeen.
Early exits to retirement are one thing, but 26 percent here resign within their first year and a half on the force.
“As soon as they get certified, they leave then go to a different department because they’re certified,” said Killeen City Councilwoman Mellisa Brown.
That also is having an impact on the city’s retention rate and resources.
“We’re out money, we’re out officers, we’re out time and then we lost those in those people that really want to stay in Killeen.”
City Council members are planning to bump the starting pay from $54,000 to $60,000 per year and for more seasoned officer to $80,000 per year. Salaries are expected to grow for other cities across Central Texas as well, so this pay adjustment is quiet competitive.
“Starting officers in Killeen compared to other cities comparable to us, we were on the bottom scale. With this new budget and adjustments that we’re doing here is gonna move us above a lot of cities it is a little bit higher than the middle,” said Segarra.
City officials say KPD wants to keep their police academy and training the way it is but they are offering officers more opportunities to move up in the ranks.
Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra says the Police Dept. normally has 20 slots open per year.