By Trey Rusk
Texas needs to stop allowing small cities from hiring police officers for below poverty level salaries. I occasionally peruse the help wanted section of the Texas Municipal League. The police section is always entertaining. It doesn't take long to find a disturbing trend. Do the same rural cities post openings for police officers at pay levels that are disturbingly low?
From my experience here is what a rural city that refuses to pay a livable police salary gets for it's money.
1. A speed trap operator.
2. A cop with a history of poor performance. (Lazy and incompetent.)
3. A crooked cop. Inadequate pay breeds corruption.
4. A inexperienced rookie looking for experience. He will probably not find an adequate FTO program.
Some folks will argue that it would be a good retirement job for an experienced old cop.
I have to counter that argument with logic. Some of the towns posting the low paying jobs are located in West Texas and the panhandle. The towns are dying and have even tried to give away property in an effort to attract families. You simply don't see these towns being featured in retirement brochures.
So why do the same small cities continue to advertise for police officers. The answer is simple. Nobody stays. Small town politics rule. You give the wrong person a ticket and you may find yourself out of a job.
Is there a solution? Maybe. These small cities should offer an employment contract, housing and subsidies that can be incorporated into the salary. If they can't afford to pay a living wage why not offer a bonus of real property such as a house and land with a five year commitment.
The problem I see with these out of the way locations is nobody and I mean nobody has anything with the exception of the owner of the big ranches or out of state owned farming corporations. Everyone else is just a hired hand.