Investing in the future to ensure the safety of Colorado’s roadways…
The Colorado State Patrol put forth a budget request to the state’s legislature that has two solutions that fixes pay, retainment, and recruiting issues for state troopers.
- The first solution is to follow the Trooper Pay Bill as it is already written in the law to bring trooper salaries up to the 99-percentile range. This important step will make trooper pay competitive with other top law enforcement agencies in Colorado.
- The second solution is to introduce a graduated pay scale that will fix the problem of pay compression that has resulted from the state not funding the Pay for Performance system for over two decades. The graduated pay scale will move troopers through predictable pay ranges as their years of service, job experience, and job knowledge grow.
On February 28th, the State Patrol’s budget request was approved by the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) allowing it to be added to the Long Bill that is expected to be introduced on March 27th. What is the Long Bill? Simply put, the “Long Bill” is the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year that runs from July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024.
The JBC’s decision to add the CSP’s budget request to the Long Bill is certainly good news, but the budget request still has a long way to go. After being introduced, the Long Bill is sent to both the Democrat and Republican party caucuses for debate. The Long Bill will eventually be debated in both the House and Senate where both chambers will adopt their own version of the Long Bill. The two versions of the Long Bill will be sent back to the JBC where the differences in both bills will be reconciled. The reconciled version of the Long Bill will be sent back to both the House and Senate for a final vote. After both chambers vote to adopt the Long Bill, the bill will be sent to the Governor to be approved or vetoed. The Governor has ten days to veto all or a portion of the Long Bill.
Even though the CSP’s budget request has been included in the Long Bill, it still has a long way to go, as demonstrated above. We need your help in ensuring that the CSP’s budget request remains in the Long Bill without any cuts in funding.
Funding the Colorado State Patrol’s budget request will ensure that the CSP will be competitive with other city and county law enforcement agencies when it comes to recruiting and hiring new officers into our ranks. When it comes to recruiting new trooper applicants, the CSP faces tough competitive challenges from both within, and from outside, Colorado. States such as Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Tennessee are actively recruiting state troopers from other states, including Colorado. City and county law enforcement agencies are also offering hiring bonuses up to $10,000 to experienced certified police officers. City and County governments hold a distinct advantage over Colorado’s State government in their ability to pivot quickly in regards to the compensation packages offered to recruit and retain law enforcement officers in their respective jurisdictions. Many of those jurisdictions have already restructured their compensation plans to provide for progressive pay increases over five years without the officer having to promote.
Approving the CSP’s budget request in the Long Bill will level the playing field. It will provide the CSP with the ability to offer predictable pay raises to prospective new troopers, that will in turn, result in an increase in new trooper applicants. Along with the increase in new trooper applicants, predictable pay raises will also help prevent high-quality applicants from being recruited by other law enforcement agencies.
The approval of the budget request will also ensure the retainment of more tenured and experienced troopers by allowing the CSP to implement a graduated pay scale. The implementation of a graduated pay scale will allow the CSP to fix the problem of pay compression that has resulted from the state not funding the Pay for Performance System for over two decades. Two decades of pay compression has resulted in little pay difference between a trooper with 5-years of service and a trooper with 20-years of service. In fact, the CSP reported in its budget request that, “Tenured members can leave state employment with a vested retirement, receive a hiring bonus from another agency, and be guaranteed a higher salary within only a few years of employment at the new agency.” The graduated pay scale will help retain our experienced troopers. The retainment of experienced troopers also helps to retain the money taxpayers invested in the training of those troopers over the years, and helps to ensure that these experienced troopers remain on our roadways to protect us from impaired and aggressive drivers.
The CSP also faces the challenge of non-competitive wages when compared to other law enforcement agencies. The approval of the CSP’s budget request will allow the state to comply with the Trooper Pay Bill.
Trooper Pay Bill…
In the late 1990’s, the Colorado State Patrol faced the exact same crisis with trooper staffing levels that it faces today. To address the critically low numbers of state troopers, the CSP worked with a bipartisan group of law makers to create what is known as the “Trooper Pay Bill.” The bill was designed to ensure that the State of Colorado, and the CSP, would always remain competitive with city and county law enforcement agencies regarding pay, to ensure adequate trooper staffing on our roadways. The Trooper Pay Bill was passed into law in July of 2000. Known formally as C.R.S 24-50-104(1)(a)(III)(A)(B), the statute simply states in regards to trooper pay:
“…the amount of salary shall be at least ninety-nine percent of the actual average salary provided to the top three law enforcement agencies within the state that have both more than one hundred commissioned officers and the highest actual average salary.”
If the Trooper Pay Bill exists, then why are troopers still underpaid compared other Colorado law enforcement agencies? The answer is in the Department of Personnel and Administration’s (DPA) inconsistent interpretation of the Trooper Pay Bill over the course of two decades. In a September 2022 presentation to the state’s Joint Budget Committee, the DPA, after reassessing current trooper pay in relation to the Trooper Pay Bill, stated: “Overall pay comparison shows State Troopers are 10.8% below the weighted market average (weighted by class size) for the top three law enforcement jurisdictions with the State of Colorado.” The approval of the CSP’s budget request, as stated in the Long Bill, will bring trooper pay back to within the 99 percent as written in the law. The increase in trooper pay, to levels already specified in law, will make the CSP more competitive in attracting new trooper applicants and help repel the ever-increasing recruiting efforts of other law enforcement agencies, both from within, and outside, the State of Colorado.
The Colorado State Patrol holds one distinct advantage over other law enforcement agencies when it comes to recruiting new troopers. That advantage is the CSP’s reputation for quality and dedicated service to the State of Colorado for over 87-years. The approval of the CSP’s budget request, as written in the Long Bill, will only serve to strengthen the quality of our services provided to Coloradoans by allowing us to recruit and retain the highest quality applicants into our ranks.
Why the approval of the CSP’s budget request is important for Colorado.
In 2022, Colorado had 745 traffic fatalities. That’s the most fatalities seen in our state since 1981. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities in 2022 were at their highest since 1975. Deaths from impaired driving in 2022 increased 6% from 2021.
Road rage incidents on Colorado’s roadways has increased significantly. Road rage is also a concern for Colorado’s citizens. According to the State Patrol’s 2022 Public Opinion Survey , when asked, “In what areas would you like to see more effort/enforcement by the Colorado State Patrol?” the majority of the respondents cited Aggressive/Reckless Driving as their top priority. Distracted Driving, Speeding, and Impaired Driving rounded out the top four areas of concern for Coloradans.
Approving the CSP’s budget request, as written in the Long Bill, will be the first step in reversing Colorado’s record fatality, impaired driving, and increased road rage trends. The approval of the budget request will ensure that the CSP is able to recruit and hire more troopers into our ranks, and retain our most experienced officers. More state troopers, equals more trooper visibility and enforcement on Colorado’s roadway. More trooper visibility and enforcement leads to reduced fatalities, impaired, and aggressive driving behaviors.
We need your help to take back our roads from impaired and aggressive drivers, and to help us save lives on Colorado’s roads. We need your support in urging Colorado’s legislators to support the CSP’s budget request.