Now that a long-awaited 14 percent pay raise has taken effect, the Houston police department is bracing for a mass exodus of veteran officers, reports the Houston Chronicle. “I’m very concerned,” said Police Chief Harold Hurtt. “But I don’t think we need to get overly excited.”
The retirements will affect a range of divisions but hit the homicide and helicopter divisions particularly hard. Many officers held off on retiring until the raise took effect because their pension is based on their highest pay level. The increase was meant to give police an incentive to stay by bringing them up to the pay level of other large cities.
The department’s normal attrition rate is about 2 percent; it lost 138 officers last year. Now, 129 officers already have signed up to retire this year. The Houston Police Officers Pension System says 42 will leave in April alone. In the period between now and mid-June, those leaving will include one assistant chief, one administrator, one captain, eight lieutenants, 15 sergeants, and 33 senior police officers.