RD529 - Report of the Virginia State Police Salary Review Workgroup – October 2021
• At the conclusion of FY21, VSP had 330 vacancies and 27% of frontline operational positions were vacant. VSP’s increasing vacancy rate is due to (i) fewer trooper applicants and (ii) more sworn employees at various levels choosing to leave VSP.
• The substantial vacancies are placing additional burdens on the remaining workforce. Staff overtime has increased and perceived morale problems and “burnout" are becoming more widespread.
• VSP strongly desires to improve the diversity of its applicant pool and the entire workforce.
• Over time, a variety of issues have led to salary compression affecting many employees to varying degrees. The most severe salary compression has led to more than 10% of staff earning a higher salary than their supervisors.
• Fewer experienced staff are applying for promotions, partly because VSP’s current promotional structure unintentionally incentivizes delaying promotion until after locking in the longevity-based pay increase for progressing to senior trooper.
• The number of trooper applicants with college degrees is declining relative to the existing workforce. This is particularly concerning because it runs counter to the criminal justice reform movement’s call for greater professionalism in law enforcement.
• VSP is keenly aware that an increase in appropriations alone will not fully address its recruiting, morale, and retention challenges. However, it believes that one-time bonuses and salary increases will mitigate (and hopefully substantially reduce) the barrier that current salaries present to current and prospective employees.
• The workgroup has identified several recommended actions, each designed to address specific recruiting, staff morale, and retention challenges. These actions, and the challenges they are intended to address, are summarized in Figure 1 on page 3 of the report.
• As Figure 1 indicates, no single action or subset of actions is sufficient to address VSP’s challenges identified in this report. The workgroup therefore recommends implementation of all of the recommended compensation actions jointly, as a comprehensive plan to respond to VSP’s sworn recruitment and retention problems.
• The total cost to implement these recommendations is $24.3M, with more than 90% of the funding directed at increasing the starting salary for troopers and addressing pay compression among experienced employees.
• As a near term measure to respond to VSP’s sworn recruitment and retention challenges, the workgroup recommends allocating the $20M General Assembly appropriation for bonuses as follows: (i) $10.3M to provide one-time bonuses of $5,000 to each sworn employee in November 2021; (ii) $900,000 in $5,000 to recruitment bonuses to new trooper recruits who become employed during FY22 and in moving expense reimbursements to troopers who graduate the basic school in FY22; (iii) retention and compression bonuses totaling $8.8M to be paid to sworn employees in May 2022.
• The workgroup also recommends that VSP evaluate the effectiveness of these actions over time and work with DHRM to review its job classification structure.