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After ADOC salary increase, Pettus to bring trooper pay bill

Following a major pay increase for correctional officer trainees in Alabama prisons, Rep. Phillip Pettus, R-Green Hill, says he plans to sponsor legislation to give new state troopers equal pay.

“This is nothing against (the Alabama Department of Corrections) or saying they don’t deserve more money, but troopers do too,” said Pettus, a former trooper. He said that though it’s not discussed as much as it was a few years ago, there is still a shortage of state law enforcement on Alabama highways.

“How many more people are gonna get killed before we put more troopers on the road?” Pettus told Alabama Daily News on Thursday.

Earlier this month, ADOC announced a major pay increase for correctional officer trainees. Those at the state’s maximum security prisons will now earn $55,855 a year under a new pay scale. Starting pay for officer trainees at medium security facilities will be $53,245; work release and community work center trainees will earn $50,712, the ADOC said in a written statement.

Corrections’ trainees previously earned about $35,000 to $38,000, depending on their education level.

The salary range for ALEA trooper trainees is $39,664 to $66.331, depending on a person’s education level, the agency told ADN. The completion of a two-year degree brings the salary to $40, 665.60 and the completion of a four-year degree takes it to $42,726.80.

During his budget request presentation to lawmakers last month, ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor did not mention a trooper shortage or request additional funds to hire more officers. Two years ago, he said ALEA had 507 troopers on the road and a goal of 650.

The agency currently has 440 troopers conducting patrol activities, an ALEA spokesperson told Alabama Daily News. That number includes troopers and corporals within the Highway Patrol Division as well as troopers assigned to the Marine Patrol Division. Those within Marine Patrol are required to respond and investigate traffic crashes when needed.

In an email, Amanda Wasden said the agency is continuously exploring ways to improve the salaries and benefits of all ALEA employees, including sworn officers. She thanked Pettus for his efforts on a pay increase and previous efforts to improve retirement benefits.

“Ensuring that ALEA employees are properly compensated is a top priority for the agency,” Wasden said in the email, thanking Gov. Kay Ivey and the Legislature for providing the resources needed to ensure public safety.

“The support received by the Legislature and Gov. Ivey have enabled the Agency to increase its numbers allowing our troopers and special agents to provide quality services both effectively and efficiently, while simultaneously protecting the citizens and visitors of our great state,” Wasden said. “Currently, ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor along with the Agency’s Director of Governmental Affairs, Chris Reader, are working with Sen. Clyde Chambliss to sponsor a bill which would also address the agency retirement.

“However, as a law enforcement agency that operates in an environment where risks to our sworn personnel have increased as well as a job market that has become extremely competitive, our agency understands and acknowledges that increases to both pay and retirement will enable our sworn personnel to continue to provide the highest level of quality service. Our goal is to eventually have 650 ALEA Troopers patrolling Alabama’s roadways.”

Pettus said ALEA already competes with county and city law enforcement agencies for potential officers. He’s afraid the ADOC pay increase will mean fewer people interested in careers as troopers.

“It’s going to hurt any state law enforcement agency when you raise one’s (pay) way above everybody else,” Pettus said.

Under a years-long federal court order to increase staffing at crowded and dangerous prisons, ADOC Commissioner John Hamm last month told lawmakers the department was still struggling to hire needed staff and was short about 688 correctional officers. It would contract with an outside agency for staffing help.

Pettus’ bill is still being drafted, but he said his goal is to offer trooper trainees the same pay as ADOC trainees.

According to its most recent annual report, ALEA troopers responded to 32,304 crashes in 2022. Troopers issued 298,625 citations.


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