Based on the smiles of Daytona Beach Fire Chief Dru Driscoll and Police Chief Jakari Young, you’d think they won the lottery.
They came close, pulling off something about as rare as cashing in a lottery ticket and it involved money.
A little more than 90 days ago, Mayor Derrick Henry challenged city management to “find a way to recruit and retain our officers,” explained City Manager Mr. Deric Feacher at the June 15 City Commission meeting.
And that commissioners did in giving initial approval to a package of incentives.
“Not only did we look at our police department,” Mr. Feacher said. “We looked at our fire department to make our agencies the highest paid and the best benefits of any agency in Volusia County.”
When police are assigned to an outside detail, for instance, working a beachside bar, nightclub or lounge, they have been making $40 per hour. Under the new proposal, that assignment will rise to $60 per hour with high-volume events like spring break reaching $80 per hour.
Upon final commission approval and starting July 3, all sworn personnel, for ranks from officer to deputy chief, will receive a $3 per hour raise. The minimum starting salary will increase to $23.58 per hour or $49,065 annually. Then on Oct. 1, hourly rates and annual salaries will increase by 3% to a minimum of $24.29 per hour or $50,537 annually.
Daytona Beach firefighters also are slated to receive across-the-board raises. Starting July 3 and with the commission’s approval, all regular fulltime firefighters will receive a $1.54 per hour increase. Firefighters are also slated for a 3% increase Oct. 1 and the years reduced to reach normal retirement from 25 years to 20. The fire department has 105 certified firefighters.
Human Resources Director James Sexton emphasized everybody in both departments, except the chiefs, will be getting a raise of one type or another.
What makes all the changes a rare occurrence is the current labor agreement is not up for negotiation. It is highly unusual for the two sides of a collective bargaining agreement to renegotiate pay raises midstream of a contract.
Part of the motivation to take the action is the police department has 41 vacancies, and many current officers have been openly wondering if they should stay in Daytona Beach or go to the greener pastures of another city's blue uniform.
The current CBA also has helped in recruiting and retention as it provides for a reduction in years of service to reach retirement. Formerly police and fire personnel had to work 25 years to retire; now, they will hit that mark in 20 years.
Daytona Beach resident John Nicholson was a dissenting voice on the reduction in the years needed to retire. He believes police will now be forced to retire. “They will retire. We will force them out,” he said emphatically. “We’re creating our own problems where we force these people out of the police department.”
Chief Young thanked the commissioners for addressing the pay issues within the police department. “It's truly needed,” he said.
Fire Chief Dru Driscoll was of like mind, “It's a great day in Daytona Beach to be a member of public safety so we thank you very much.”
The final approval of the pay raises is scheduled for the July 6 commission meeting.
In other action:
Sofia Dallas spoke on behalf of Sisters Supporting Sisters. A breast cancer awareness organization that lends a helping hand to all women with a focus on African-American women as they are at a greater risk of contracting breast cancer.
Ms. Dallas is the CEO and co-founder of the nonprofit and informed the commission of a fundraising gala Oct. 1 at the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center in Daytona Beach. She asked the commission to donate to the gala so it could be made an annual event. Commissioners Stacy Cantu, Danette Henry, Paula Reed and Mayor Henry expressed genuine interest.
For more information, visit sisterssupporting.com/.
Brittany Presley represented the Bethune-Cookman University Black Male Explorers Program. “We assist at risk young males in our community in grades six through 12,” she said while addressing the room. The program takes the young males on college student tours, provides help with their studies and serves year-round hot meals. They are in need of assistance. For more information, visit facebook.com/brittanysh.
For more information on becoming a police officer in Daytona Beach, visit codb.us/policerecruitment.