Nevada Legislature: Capitol Police pay gap raised by lawmakers

Lawmakers were told on Tuesday the Capitol Police division has a 32 percent vacancy rate at present and always has difficulty not only recruiting officers but keeping them.

After Assemblyman Chris Edwards, R-Las Vegas, asked why, Capitol Police Chief Jerome Tushbant told him the problem is his division must compete with not only local agencies but Parole and Probation and the Nevada Highway Patrol.

It came out during review of Department of Public Safety budgets local law enforcement agencies constantly steal good employees from the state because they pay more.

Tushbant did say he’s in competition with those two other state agencies for officers. But what he didn’t come right out and say is part of his problem is P&P and NHP both pay their officers more.

Their sworn personnel are classified two full grades higher than the Capitol Police — a pay difference of some 10 percent.

Edwards didn’t get an answer to his question about how much it would cost to fix that salary problem but a review of the agency request budgets indicates the total cost to bring the Capitol Police up to the same salary level as NHP would be about $400,000 during the biennium.

Tushbant included that cost in his agency request budget but it was not included in the governor’s recommended budget.

The problem with agencies including P&P is the competition with local law enforcement agencies.

P&P Division Deputy Chief John O’Rourke said during the past year it lost 99 sworn officers.

Although fully half of those were to retirement, he said a significant number were officers moving to agencies that pay better than the state.

P&P chief Natalie Woods said it currently has 20 vacant sworn positions and 16 non-sworn officers.

“Yes, we have become a training ground for local positions,” she said.

The comments came during a joint Assembly Ways and Means, Senate Finance review of public safety budget proposals.

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