GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) – Good news for the lowest-paid police officers in Gaffney: thanks to a unanimous vote by the Gaffney City Council, several officers will be getting a raise.
7 News spoke with the department about what this means and learned what the community thinks about it.
“You hear it every day. Police officer stops at a stop sign or a red light and somebody ambushes them, shoots him and kills him for no reason,” Gaffney Police Chief Chris Skinner said.
Chief Skinner says it takes a lot to be a cop.
“It’s just about a fight every time they have to arrest somebody. There’s no respect for officers,” Skinner said. “When you get out with somebody, you better be prepared to defend yourself.”
So, when he heard members of his team would soon be getting a raise, he was thrilled; and so were those the officers work to serve and protect.
“For what they deal with–even with the pay raise–I believe they’re still significantly underpaid,” Zachary Sampson said. “They’re a fantastic group of men and women who risk their lives.”
The raise will be for certified class-one patrol officers. Those whose salary was just over $15 an hour will now be close to $17 an hour.
Chief Skinner said some could see about $3,000 more a year.
“If you’re getting paid more, your morale is going to be higher,” Sampson said. “You’re going to be more excited to go to work.”
The department is hoping the raise will help them recruit and keep officers in Gaffney.
“Because the pay is so low, they move out of town,” Sampson said. “They go to Greenville, they go to Rock Hill, they go where they know they can be paid more money.”
In fact, there’s an incentive for officers who choose to live within the city limits. They will get a $200 housing stipend each month and will get to drive their patrol cars to run errands, shop, and dine in Gaffney.
Many believe the larger presence of officers in the city will help to deter crime.
“A police car sitting in a driveway in your neighborhood is a good thing,” Chief Skinner said. “If you see a police car at Walmart or the yellow mall and you were going to shoplift, you probably won’t do it.”
At least 15 officers at the department will see a change in their next paycheck as that pay raise will go into effect in just two weeks.