AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A state workforce audit released Tuesday recommended continuing increasing salaries for certain state law enforcement employees in Texas, citing the need to retain employees and remain competitive with local jurisdictions.
The annual report from the State Auditor’s Office provided insight into salary and retention trends for employees that work in Texas state agencies. A previous December audit on rentention showed an average turnover rate for regular, full and part-time employees was 22.7% — the highest turnover rate in at least a decade.
According to the exit survey, state agency employees cited “better pay” and “benefits” as their main reason for leaving. Turnover was highest for those making under $40,000 a year.
Included in that bucket is state law enforcement employees, falling under six state agencies — Department of Public Safety, Parks and Wildlife Department, Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Office of the Attorney General, Department of Criminal Justice and Department of Insurance.
This group’s retention rate dropped by 1% from the previous year, but had the lowest turnover rate, 4.3%, among all other state agency groups. In comparison, the Austin Police Department, for example, has a turnover rate of 8.8%, according to city data.
Kristine Anthony-Miller, commander of the Houston Police Department, said even in the state’s largest city, her department is struggling staffing wise. HPD offers $42,000 as a base salary for entry-level officers, compared to the $62,016 an entry-level trooper at DPS makes.
“[We’re competing] with anyone that pays more than $42,000,” Anthony-Miller laughed. “For those people that have that heart of service that want to serve their community, we’d love to have them.”
Of course, there are more factors than just pay. Houston police officers can get bi-weekly specialty and incentive pay for having certain degrees and skills — up to $8,840 for officers with a doctorate degree. And for Austin officers, they can earn $175 a month for being bilingual or working as a mental health officer.
The auditor’s study notably did not look into retirement plans and benefits for state law enforcement employees due to the “complexities of such plans.”