Lawmakers were told Wednesday it’s not fair the Capitol Police are paid less and receive fewer benefits than every other law enforcement agency in state service.
Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, D-Las Vegas, said every other agency including the Nevada Highway Patrol and Parole and Probation automatically raises their classification from DPS Officer 1 — Grade 36 —to DPS Officer 2 — Grade 39 — when they’re hired after completing the academy. The difference in pay alone amounts to about 15 percent for line officers.
The bill also would mandate the two Capitol Police sergeants receive a two pay-grade increase to Grade 41, about a 10 percent increase.
The fiscal note submitted by the Department of Administration estimates making the change would cost the state about $472,000 each biennium.
She told the Assembly Government Affairs Committee Capitol Police also have fewer benefits and less chance for advancement or transfer to other agencies.
Jauregui introduced AB143 to fix what she sees as a serious inequity. That bill would mandate the Capitol Police be treated the same under the law as NHP troopers since they’re required to have the same training and qualifications.
At present, she said Capitol Police have a much harder time recruiting and retaining officers.
Capitol Police Chief Dale Liebherr said he currently has two open positions in Las Vegas and a total of six positions filled with temporary “critical hire” officers out of a total staff of 18 officers and two sergeants. He said they’re recruiting constantly because of retention problems particularly with young officers who move to other agencies when they can. He said the average age of his officers is in the 40 to 50 range.
Rick McCann, head of the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, said the issue has been presented numerous times to former governors but it was always cut from the governor’s proposed budget.
“Quite frankly, I got tired of it so we brought you a bill,” he said. “We need to fix this inequity.”
The problem stems from the history of the Capitol Police who were originally Buildings and Grounds unsworn security officers. Their budget still comes from rent assessments on state agencies whereas NHP troopers are paid out of Highway Funds.
McCann said Capitol Police are already under Public Safety for operational matters and their budget should be moved to that department as well.
AB143 had no opposition and received verbal support from several members of the committee as well as other public safety groups and the NHP association.
The committee took no action on AB143.