Greenfield struggling to retain officers and paramedics

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GREENFIELD, Ind. – The Greenfield Police Department and Greenfield Fire Territory are looking for solutions to retain good talent as they see more employees look elsewhere for higher-paying jobs.

The proposed 2021 budget before the city council does not include a pay raise for any employee on the city’s payroll. The clerk-treasurer said it was due to the decrease in revenues as well as the projected 2021 revenue reductions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, two employees of the Greenfield Police Department decided to leave. One officer had 15 years of experience with the department and he decided to pursue a job outside law enforcement.

“Another officer, she had an opportunity that came up which was significantly more pay, something outside law enforcement,” said Chief Jeff Rasche. “She had only been in law enforcement for five years and she said the culture of law enforcement today certainly has an impact on the decision she made.”

Chief Rasche said other officers are in hiring processes with other departments. He believes those people are looking elsewhere because of pay.

“We do salary studies with other departments that are similar to ours,” he said. “Are we falling short? I think we are.”

Right now, the pay for a probationary officer in Greenfield is almost $48,000. In Noblesville, it is almost $53,000. In Fishers, it is just over $54,000 for an entry-level position. A starting salary in Carmel is more than $64,000.

“What can we do to self-fund some type of raise? Is there an initiative here we can temporarily cut or cut forever?” said Chief Rasche.

Greenfield Fire Territory is seeing something similar. In the last three years, they have had a 52 percent turnover rate. As they struggle to compete with the salaries of other departments, it is making them lose more experienced paramedics.

“A five year experienced paramedic, he can leave here and lateral transfer to another department in Hamilton County and he is instantly going to get a pay raise,” said Deputy Chief Jason Horning.

Deputy Chief Horning believes higher pay will encourage more people to stay. Greenfield Fire Territory said they have a plan to help reduce turnover and they hope to present the idea to the council soon.

“When our citizens need help and they dial 911, I want to make sure they are getting the best service they can get,” he said.

Both agencies stressed this challenge is not impacting the safety of their community. Greenfield Police said they have received interest from more than 20 applicants for positions now open.

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