Departures of Nevada Highway Patrol soldiers increase in 2021
The Nevada Highway Patrol is seeing a mass exodus of soldiers seeking better pay and benefits from other law enforcement agencies in 2021, according to the union that represents the state’s soldiers.
“Our biggest frustration now is the staff and turnover,” said Wayne Dice, the Southern Nevada liaison for the Nevada Police Union, who represents the Soldiers as well as the Nevada Capitol Police officers. state parole and probation, firefighters, game wardens, park wardens, university police and public safety workers.
The Nevada Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Highway Patrol, said in an email to the newspaper that 35 soldiers had left the agency in 2020. As of Wednesday, 57 had left the Highway Patrol in 2021, an increase of 63% compared to the year. before with more than three months remaining in the year.
“We’ve had a lot of turnover for a long time, but now it’s really getting worse,” Dice said.
Dice said departures will continue to increase until December. From 2017 to 2020, the Department of Public Safety said, 17% of state officials who left went to work in other city or county law enforcement agencies. Regarding the soldiers leaving this year, Dice said he knew the majority were heading to other police departments because he and other union leaders told them why they were leaving.
“We have six confirmed retirements by Dec. 1 and nine more people leaving for medical reasons or going to Metro School District police or (Clark County),” Dice said, adding that Soldiers applied for positions with the Metropolitan Police Department for higher pay and better benefits.
The number of road deaths increases
The defections come as traffic crashes in Nevada have increased 25% so far this year. On Wednesday, there were 243 road fatalities, up from 193 at the same time in 2020, according to the National Road Safety Office.
“The main reason our road deaths are on the rise is because we are understaffed,” Dice said. “It’s a lack of proactive enforcement. “
Dice, who spoke as a representative and not as a highway patrol sergeant, said some of the soldiers’ departures are traditional retreats. compared to other agencies, he said.
The starting salary for a junior officer in the Department of Public Security is $ 46,666 when he participates in the state employer-paid pension plan. A higher salary of $ 53,598 is available to new hires as part of an “employer / employee paid” pension contribution, the ministry said.
Dice said that after soldiers contributed to their retirement through the Nevada public employee retirement system, PERS, their take-home pay averaged about “$ 1,200 every two weeks.”
“Almost 23% of our salary goes to retirement, compared to work (for) Henderson, Metro, another county,” Dice said. “They pay the PERS of their employees. There is a big gap. “
Spokeswoman Kim Smith said the Department of Public Safety did not have anyone available for an interview for this story.
However, a presentation the department made to state lawmakers this year makes it clear that the agency knows it has a serious retention issue with law enforcement officials.
The department said its overall officer turnover rate was 135% in 2020, with 60 cadets hired while 81 officers left the agency. In 2019, the turnover rate was 109% and the previous year it was 127%.
The department also presented lawmakers with a comparison of the salaries of its officers and other agencies such as Henderson and the Las Vegas Police Department.
According to the department, the base salary for a sergeant ranges from $ 55,123 to $ 82,872. The base salary of a Metro sergeant ranges from $ 80,974 to $ 115,232, and the base salary of a Sergeant Henderson ranges from $ 100,724 to $ 122,460.
The revenue also has an effect on public safety on Nevada highways.
“Staff need to perform more tasks and tasks, cover more area and work more overtime,” the department wrote in a PowerPoint presentation provided to lawmakers by department director George Togliatti and deputy director Sheri Brueggemann.
“Most of the highways are not covered with cemetery,” the department said.
The ministry also said that “the response time of NHPs to calls for service will continue to increase” and that the high caseload for parole and probation officers makes it “extremely difficult to engage with quality for the parolees / probationers they supervise ”.
The ministry said during the presentation that it is embarking on comprehensive recruitment efforts to attract more troops. The agency organized 45 career fairs over a 13-month period starting in 2019.
Dice said the push for better pay and better personnel for the highway patrol, as well as other state law enforcement officials, had “fallen on the ears of the highway. ‘one deaf year after year’ in the Legislature, resulting in low morale.
“For us it’s hard,” he said. “We haven’t had a lot of applicants applying for Highway Patrol over the past two years. (They) leave for civilian jobs (with) better pay, better benefits, better retirement. We cannot compete with other agencies. Right now our staffing levels are probably at their lowest. “