SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Santa Fe could soon be giving police officers a giant raise. They are also proposing a big increase for first responders and city employees.
“It includes a lot of different factors, including a 16% pay increase for police, a $750,000 incentive for first responders to buy a home in Santa Fe — so they would live where they work to keep us safe — it includes a downtown substation for police — so that this side of Santa Fe would have an increased police presence,” says Mayor Alan Webber of Santa Fe. “I think we have to make a very clear statement that we are going to put a lot of our city’s resources into a modern, professional, well-equipped, well-trained, well-responsive public safety team.”
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However, there is some criticism from council members about whether using the funds this way is the right way. Councilman Chris Rivera says they’ve already tried giving police raises, and it hasn’t worked. “In fact, in some cases, we have more vacancies now than we did before we gave 27% increases two years ago,” Rivera says.
Rivera argues raising salaries in Santa Fe could hurt smaller departments who will then be unable to afford to retain their staff. “I’m not sure that it’s helping the situation right now I think we have to find new and creative ways to get new officers into the force,” Rivera says.
However, Webber says these changes will help professionalize and add support to the first responders in the area. “You put your money where you can do the most good and where there’s the biggest call for assistance. That’s what we’re hearing right now from our residents,” Webber says.
The budget proposal also includes a $15,000 incentive for lateral police department hires, an eight percent raise for other first responders like EMTs and firefighters, $1.1 million for body cameras, a continuation of the Alternative Response Unit in the fire department, $70,000 for wildfire evacuation analysis, and $1.2 million in funding security contracts.
The proposed budget also creates three new positions: Health and Safety Captain, Training Captain, and Fire Inspector.
For city positions, the budget offers eight percent raises for all city employees, $2,000 annual retention incentives, and $1,000 signing incentives. City governing bodies will vote on this budget Wednesday.