State auditors might have found a clue about why Texas has a hard time hanging onto new state troopers: The pay stinks in comparison with big-city officers.
The State Auditor's Office released a report Monday showing the results of a pay-scale comparison between the state pay for troopers and police officers in local departments with more than 1,000 officers. The state would have to spend more than $55 million over the next two years to bring their pay scale in line with the average maximum pay for local officers, according to the report. To bring the pay of state officers, including game wardens and the like, up to the mid-range average pay would cost about $40 million over two years.
For entry-level positions in state law enforcement, such as trooper and game warden trainees, the report said the turnover rate was 32.5 percent, and for more experienced officers, such as commanders, majors and game wardens, the turnover rate was 10.6 percent.
And for some positions, the report said, state officers' pay scale is 15 percent to 20 percent below the average maximum pay in local police departments. A trooper trainee with fewer than four years of service earns about $35,700. The most a trooper with 30 years of experience and a master's degree could earn is about $67,800 per year. An officer with the same qualifications could make on average $71,700 per year at a large local police department.
"The Legislature may wish to consider revising (trooper salaries) to provide competitive salaries to journey-level, senior-level, and supervisory law enforcement positions," the auditor's report stated.