A public battle is brewing over just how much Nashville's police officers should be paid. Advocates say officers aren't being rewarded for making a big dent in crime, and their campaign is now headed to the streets.
Crime in Nashville is down about 12 percent, according to the Nashville chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
"I have tremendous respect for the police and the FOP," said Mayor Karl Dean.
However, in Dean's 2014 budget, he isn't giving police officers their annual incremental raises. That's why the local FOP is launching a $20,000 advertising campaign that includes yard signs and billboards posted around the city touting the officers' efforts to lower crime.
"We need to be compensated for our hard work, our diligent effort and our continued vigilance for the city," said Metro police Sgt. Robert Weaver, president of the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police.
Four years ago, the Metro Council put a freeze on all departments' incremental pay increases, which used to be about three percent per year.
If this newly proposed budget passes, that would make five years without an increase.
"We have officers who anticipated getting these increases as they were sending children through school, and they haven't gotten those. And they've had to make do on what they were making in 2009," Weaver said.
Weaver has been lobbying council members, and he is asking taxpayers to do the same.
"We are confident that our message is getting through," he said.
But that remains to be seen.
"We'll see how things work out. Clearly, times are better. We're coming out of the recession, the city is stronger than most cities but it's not like we have endless amounts of money," Dean said. "We'll work through this issue and come to the best resolution that we can."
Members of the public will be allowed to share their input on the proposed budget Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Metro Courthouse.
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