The Royse City Police Department is currently trying to replace two officers that have left the department, and at the same time trying to keep pace with city growth. Competitive salary concerns are what keeps the department one step behind in the race against attrition.

“In the last year or so, the Royse City Police Department has hired officers with experience, expertise and knowledge that have greatly improved the capabilities of the department,” Royse City Police Chief Tom Shelton said. “The main problem is that there are not enough of them.”

One of the budget items that will go before the city council in the near future is an increase in manpower and salaries for the police department. The department is currently spending overtime money to bring in off-duty officers every day to meet the manpower needs of the city. Shelton stated that this may occur within the next two city council meetings.

“If we raised our starting pay 15 percent and hired two new officers we would be spending less than we are spending on two officers a day working overtime,” Shelton said. “A substantial increase in salaries is the only way we will ever get the personnel we need.”

Royse City starts new officers at a salary of $38,000.

In comparison, the Rockwall Police Department starts its officers at $44,901. Rowlett’s starting base is $46,092. The McKinney Police Department just raised their starting salaries the first week of April to $48,292 for a certified officer.

“Our standards are as high or higher than any department in the area but our salaries are the lowest,” Shelton said. “Many applicants have applied here thinking we do not require as much as the big departments. They are surprised to find our hiring standards are higher than most.

“We hire less than 10 percent of those who apply here. Selection of quality officers is a priority and we will not lower our standards. We are no longer a stepping stone for officers wanting to move on to larger agencies. In fact, we have half a dozen officers from larger agencies that like what is happening in Royse City and have expressed and interest in coming here. It is just too much of a pay cut to come to Royse City at this time.”

Shelton feels that his department has done a good job, but is now facing an uphill battle.

“We were able to put a dent in crime last year with the current manpower but the city has boomed in population since then,” Shelton said. “We do not have the personnel to conduct as much preventive patrol as we did and that may be one of the reasons we have seen a slight increase in crime.

“We set a record in the number of arrests last year which also contributed to the lower crime rate. Our arrests are down 30 percent since February because we have less officers than we did a year ago. I would like to fill two vacant slots now and add an additional five officers in the next year.

“The city is growing at a much larger rate than the police department. The estimated population of Royse City is 7,500 to 8,000 people. This population may grow to 10,000 within the next year. A perfect ratio of police officers to the population is three officers per 1,000.

“The recommended lowest ratio of officers is two per 1,000. With this formula, our manpower should be 16 to 22 now and 20 to 30 within the next two years. We are experiencing a large increase in investigations and do not have sufficient manpower for patrol and investigations.”

“(Shelton) has voiced concerns to me about the fact that we’re two officers down right now,” said Royse City Mayor Jim Mellody. “If it comes up in city council we’re certainly going to look at it. I think history shows that when our police department needs something we do what we can to get it.

“I know that McKinney has recently increased their pay by I think 30 percent. I know Greenville has lost some officers to them. We’ve lost some too, though I don’t know if they went to McKinney or not.

“My concern is that we can’t look at other cities our own size when we compare pay rates. We have to look at the bigger cities like McKinney. We probably can’t match them, but I think we need to make it more lucrative so that we can compete.

“I believe it will come up in budget discussion sometime between June and September, when we have to have the budget finalized. I believe we’ll do whatever we have to do to keep us safe,” Mellody said.

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