The annual salaries for Kent Police officers, sergeants, commanders and assistant chiefs are 19.2% higher in 2022 than 2019 under a new three-year labor agreement.
The Kent City Council unanimously approved April 5 a new contract with the Kent Police Officers Association for officers and sergeants as well as a separate contract with the union for commanders and assistant chiefs.
“I am very pleased with the outcome of the contracts,” said Kent Mayor Dana Ralph after the council gave her approval to sign the new labor agreements. “They provide us with an additional tool to attract and retain top quality officers.”
The council approved most of the pay hike in October 2021 when it gave officers an early 16% increase in advance of the new three-year contract that runs through Dec. 31, 2024. The prior three-year agreement expired Dec. 31, 2021.
Although the Kent Police Department has a budget for 165 officers, staffing has been about 20 officers short due to resignations, retirements and a lack of new hires.
Police Chief Rafael Padilla and city leaders hope the higher pay leads to better staffing.
An officer hired but still in the police academy will receive $81,660 per year in 2022 compared to $68,520 in 2019. By their fifth year, that officer will make $106,308 per year compared to $89,208 in 2019. The pay for sergeants jumped to $127,656 per year from $107,136.
Commanders (seven on the current list) will get $157,704 per year in 2022 compared to $132,348 in 2019. The three assistant chiefs will get $186,096 per year compared to $156,580 in 2019.
That includes $15,508 per month to Assistant Chief Derek Kammerzell, who remains on paid administrative leave after Mayor Ralph asked the police union for his resignation in January for posting a Nazi insignia on his office door. Negotiations between the city and police union over Kammerzell’s status have yet to be resolved.
The 16% hike cost the city about $700,000 in 2021 and will cost about $2.8 million in 2022 from the city general fund and criminal justice fund, according to Padilla.
Under the labor agreement, officers assigned to certain units receive a pay of 4% above their base pay. That includes the Special Investigations Unit, Special Operations Unit, K-9, traffic, Valley SWAT, Neighborhood Response Team, School Resource Officers and other units.
In 2023 and 2024, officers, sergeants, commanders and assistant chiefs will receive pay increases of a minimum 1% to a maximum 6% based on the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners.