INDIANAPOLIS (March 16, 2016) – Even more Indiana State Police troopers are looking to leave the force because of low wages and benefits.
This week, a group of state lawmakers were briefed on a new independent study, comparing Indiana State Police wages and benefits to that of 11 different agencies.
“Our goal is we should be able to recruit and retain the best men and women,” Steve Buschmann said, who represents the Indiana State Police Alliance.
The study, produced specifically for state lawmakers by Mercer, showed Indiana’s 806 troopers making less, both initially and throughout their career, than officers in Hamilton County, Indianapolis, along with troopers in Michigan and Illinois.
The difference sometimes equates to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars over the span of their career.
Since the study only compared Indiana troopers to less than a dozen other agencies, the Indiana State Police Alliance said other local departments make even more, adding those are the departments taking a majority of troopers away from the state.
“We’ve had a lot of troopers leave lately,” Buschmann said.
State police report 28 Indiana troopers left before retirement in 2015; 14 of those are now working for other law enforcement with higher wages, including with the Hammond Police Department, IMPD, Fishers, Merrillville and Batesville. Several other troopers took jobs with the FBI, Secret Service and other state agencies.
Beyond that, Indiana State Police know of at least 12 other troopers actively applying for jobs with other agencies, including IMPD, Fishers, Illinois State Police, the ATF and DEA.
“Never been this high,” Buschmann said. “There’s always people that leave, and always some that go to other law enforcement, but never these numbers. At least in the last four years.”
Indiana troopers saw their first raise in nearly eight years ago last summer, a two percent raise approved by lawmakers. But the new study shows that didn’t boost Indiana’s rank much higher.
“We don’t have a crisis, and they’re not uncompetitive,” State Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) said. “But I think we can do a little better.”
Kenley, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, acknowledged lawmakers will need to address the issue during the next budget session, calling the new report a “warning signal.”
“It’s important to get these kinds of things right,” he said. “If you have good employees, happy employees and committed employees, you’re going to get a better performance for the taxpayer.”
The Indiana State Police Alliance will spend the summer and fall meeting with lawmakers and governor’s administration.
“It’s on the radar,” Buschmann said. “We need to provide the information, but like anything else it’s a budget number and lots of people go to members of the General Assembly with needs.”
Lawmakers are also expected to look at pay scales for high ranks, including sergeants, lieutenants and captains.
The question is whether the state can remain competitive to prevent more troopers from leaving.
“We will use this study as we begin the process of developing the next biennial budget,” Gov. Mike Pence said in a statement. “As governor, I want to ensure that the compensation we provide our law enforcement community reflects the gratitude of the people of Indiana.”