Flint, MI– The Flint Police Department is looking to offer competitive pay as they work to recruit officers.

During a committee meeting on Feb. 9, the Flint City Council voted unanimously to move a resolution to the next regular city council meeting that would make discretionary pay part of the police department’s regular practice. 

“The purpose of the resolution is strictly to support the police department in our recruitment effort,” said Human Resources Director Eddie Smith. “It lets us compete.”

Smith said the department currently has 22 open positions. For years, the department has been understaffed. According to the city’s job posting for a full-time police officer, the starting salary is $40,429. 

“We’re competing with other community police departments, and it allows us to do discretionary pay upon hire,” Smith said. “Meaning … if they’ve got a lot of experience, they’re bringing a special skill to the police department, we can start them at a higher level. We can compete.”

Police Chief Terence Green noted that there was “a deficiency in the language” of the collective bargaining agreement. He explained that while they could bring officers in at a higher rate with discretionary pay, it would take “six years for that officer to receive a step increase in his pay.”

He gave the example of Officer Pool who left the Flint Township Police Department and was hired into the Flint Police Department with more than five years of experience, and was given discretionary pay. 

“The deficiency was he would have to wait six years in order for him to receive a step increase in his pay,” Green said. The proposed plan, written in a document called a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, he said, “is correcting that deficiency. So it has nothing to do with ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) dollars. It has nothing to do with bonuses. It’s just following the collective bargaining agreement.”

According to the resolution document, the MOU is the result of the city of Flint and the Flint Police Officers Union wanting to permit those individuals with discretionary pay to receive a step increase that is “equal to the compensation schedule step that is one step above their initial discretionary pay.”

The MOU states that this increase in pay does not “set a precedent or entitle employees to future increases.” 

Council President Eric Mays was in support of discretionary pay, and said he hoped to “beef up” patrols, and detectives in the department. 

“I come out of the Union. I come out of collective bargaining agreements. And so this is an easy one for me,” he said, and added that he’d like to see the department ramp up recruiting efforts via TV commercials, too. 

“If y’all want to advertise online, I want to advertise on TV. I want commercials,” Mays said. “I want to really try to pull it off. That’s just me.”

Councilwoman Tonya Burns supported the MOU, and said that it’s reasonable for people “putting their life on the line,” to “be paid a fair wage.”

“You have an officer who has already served for five years, he’s experienced. You don’t have to send them to the academy. So we need to make those adjustments and it’s important,” she said. “And I want to make sure that we keep officers who are transferring over, who come from maybe Flint Township, who come from the sheriff’s department, who are working here, and we need to make it right.”

Green said the discretionary pay was already budgeted for, although he wasn’t sure of the amount. Mays said he wanted to be sure. 

“We can talk, but we have to have the money,” Mays said. “Then you have to come for a budget amendment. I’m not opposed to that at a later date, but I’m concerned about the money.”

The council unanimously voted to send the MOU to the next regular council meeting on Feb. 14.

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...