DPS sergeants make 18.6 percent and lieutenants 20.2 percent less than their urban counterparts. The maximum base pay of $84,427 for captains is 24.3 percent less than the $104,971 for the police and sheriff’s department captains.This has been a primary gripe from troopers I've spoken with personally who seem to feel left out in the cold when it comes to pay hikes. After all, executives at DPS already got theirs.
The Austin Police Department offers, by far, the highest maximum base pay for each rank, followed by Fort Worth and Dallas. (Please see the chart on page 9 of the report.).
To bring those state salaries in line with the metropolitan average could be accomplished by paying out an additional $51.5 million annually, according to the Auditor’s report.
The market rate in Texas for top officers has mushroomed ever since - for reasons that still baffle me, some seemingly sensible people, against the advice of their better angels, decided to make APD officers among the highest paid police in the western hemisphere. This occurred through a series of negotiated raises outside the regular budget process, under the auspices of a state-authorized "meet and confer" agreement which also controls the authority of the city's disciplinary process, the authority of the city's police monitor, etc., giving the union de facto veto power over their own disciplinary process. DPS needn't follow that self-destructive path to become competitive, but raises are perhaps overdue.
Still, even shooting for the "metropolitan average," as advised by the auditor, would be quite a bump. "The average maximum base pay for officers, corporals and detectives in those departments is $74,543 or 20.6 percent more than the $61,793 average maximum for those ranks in the state Department of Public Safety," wrote Lisheron. We're asking troopers to do a lot these days, including too frequent assignments to overpatrol rural border stretches. So if the current model is to continue, they surely deserve higher pay, and I agree the state benefits from having experienced, job-satisfied state troopers, so I generally support paying them more. The question becomes, is that politically possible?
For the benefit of the betting public, Grits would guesstimate the over-under on DPS trooper raises at 9% - i.e., more than that is about as likely as less. This has been a lingering need and the state will have a little more money than it anticipated, but I don't see the incoming fiscal conservatives going as high as 20%, state auditor's recommendation or no.