Detroit Police Chief James White standing by other officers
Detroit Police Chief James White pictured during a multi-day gun violence prevention effort in city neighborhoods. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)

Substantial raises and a $10,000 bump in starting pay for new recruits are on the horizon for Detroit’s police force under a set of tentative contracts reached between the city and officer unions. 

A five-year agreement for the Detroit Police Officers Association (DPOA) calls for an immediate shift in starting salary from $43,000 to $53,000 for officers coming straight out of the academy, Detroit officials announced Friday. 

Police Chief James White said the tentative deals will allow the department to “finally” treat its officers as if they are the best in the country and hopefully offset DPD’s staffing shortage. 

“We are giving (our officers) a pay increase that’s going to certainly change the game for us with recruiting, retention and give them the opportunity to provide for their families and do some of the things that they want to do,” White said during a Friday news conference at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters downtown. 

The tentative DPOA agreement also includes a $13,000 increase – from $60,000 to $74,000 – for officers with four years on the force. The tentative deal with the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association would raise detective pay in the department by about $11,000, sergeant pay by about $10,000 and lieutenants pay by about $11,000.

Mayor Mike Duggan joined Friday with White and members of the DPOA and DPLSA to go over the proposed contract terms. Duggan said officers would receive an increase of 4% per year for the next four years if the contract is ratified. Duggan said the department has come a long way from paying a starting salary of $28,000 when he first took office in 2014. 

“We are doing this because it’s the right thing for the men and women protecting us but (also) we are doing it because we have to for the people of Detroit to protect public safety,” Duggan said.

Duggan said the raises are being funded through continued growth in city income tax revenue. The city’s latest Revenue Estimating Conference, which was held earlier this month, estimates $35-$40 million a year in income tax revenues for the next five years – a dramatic increase from the previous conference estimates in February. 

Bob Stevenson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, has said starting pay for other departments around the state is upwards of $70,000, which has made it tough for Detroit to compete.

In March, the department announced one-time $2,000 retention bonuses for officers to fight the wave of officers leaving the department. Duggan and White have spoken often this year about the issue of losing officers to other departments. 

Duggan said he hopes the tentative agreements will allow the department to fill its 300 vacancies. The department, he said, lost 72 officers in August and September, many of whom went to other departments in Metro Detroit. 

“At that rate of departure, the city is going to get significantly less safe,” Duggan said. 

Mark Young, president of DPLSA, said he has already seen interest from past DPD officers hoping to come back in the wake of the contract news. 

“As the wheels turn and we turn the tide on recruitment and retention and the violence, we’ll see a greater city that I think we all will benefit from,” Young said. 

The tentative contract agreements are up for ratification with the unions’ members. If those members agree, the contract will head to Detroit’s City Council for approval. White is hopeful that the council will take up the contracts soon after the unions’ members vote on them.

Bryce Huffman is a reporter for BridgeDetroit. He was formerly a reporter for Michigan Radio, and host of the podcast, Same Same Different.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *