Orlando police officers set to get two pay raises this year (2024)

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Photo by Dave Decker

The Orlando Police Department’s police officers will see a 6 to 13 percent pay hike next month through a new agreement reached between city officials and the officers’ labor union, the Orlando Fraternal Order of Police.

According to city documents, starting pay for Orlando police officers will rise from just under $55,000 a year, where it is today, to $62,129 effective July 7, 2024, representing a roughly 13 percent increase.

This sizable boost, approved by Orlando City Council last Monday, is largely made possible through a decision by the city and the union to get rid of the officers’ lowest pay structure tier, known as Grade 1, and advance everyone on that bottom rung up to the second tier.

Under their union contract, police officers are paid based on a salary structure that takes into account the number of years they have worked for the department and performance evaluations.

Under the new agreement, police officers on all other salary tier levels will similarly get a 6 percent salary increase, effective July 7, with salaries ranging from the new base of $62,129 to $97,420 annually, plus benefits.

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City of Orlando

Pay scale for Orlando Police Department sworn officers represented by FOP Lodge #25

Police lieutenants — who already make six-figure salaries — and police sergeants (who don't) will also get a 6 percent pay raise next month.

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City of Orlando

Pay scale for police lieutenants employed by the Orlando Police Department, represented by the FOP Lodge #25.

But there's more.

Under the terms of their current three-year union contract, approved in 2022, all three job classifications will see an additional 4 percent pay raise this fall, on Oct. 1, which will boost starting pay for Orlando police officers even higher — to a minimum $64,656 for starting officers.

Altogether that's thousands of dollars in extra pay coming to Orlando Police Department officers, sergeants and lieutenants, annually.

Fiscal impact statements indicate a cost of $1.4 million in public money this fiscal year, and an estimated annualized cost of $5.76 million thereafter. City documents state this pay boost will be funded through a city budget amendment using "excess" sales tax revenues.

The new agreement was placed on the Orlando City Council's consent agenda last week, and was approved by city commissioners with no discussion.

City spokesperson Ashley Papagni, over email, explained to Orlando Weekly that these changes were enacted “in order to remain competitive with comparable jurisdictionsfor top quality law enforcement officers.”

Orlando Weekly also asked if other city employees will similarly see raises next month, including city employees who are nonunion or those who are represented by another union, such as the SEIU Florida Public Sector Union (SEIU-FPSU), the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA), or the Orlando Professional Firefighters union (IAFF Local 1365).

Altogether, these labor unions represent a wide range of city employees, from code enforcement to wastewater specialists, firefighters, traffic safety control specialists and city planners.

According to Papagni, the city is scheduled to negotiate with the firefighters union, IAFF, regarding changes to their own contract that could impact members' pay, but she gave no clarification on the others.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #25, which represents OPD officers, did not respond to our emailed request for comment on their members' raises ahead of publication.

These salary boosts for Orlando police officers come as the city works to recruit new officers to the department, which is no stranger to public scrutiny. (After Orlando Weekly published an exposé of brutality complaints within the OPD in 2008, then-Chief Val Demings retorted,“Looking for a negative story in a police department is like looking for a prayer in a church.”)

Nor is the OPD unfamiliar with paying out legal settlements over use of force and other misconduct. A 2021 investigation by FiveThirtyEight and the Marshall Project found that Orlando reportedly spends over $400,000 per year on average on police misconduct settlements.

Pay boosts for Orlando cops will cost an estimated $1.4 million in public money this fiscal year, and an estimated annualized cost of $5.765 million after that. tweet this

The Orlando Police Department is currently on a mission to recruit more than 100 new officers, after getting a thumbs-up from city officials to hire more officers last year.

To further sweeten the deal, new recruits are eligible for a $8,000 sign-on bonus, according to OPD — with $3,000 of that fronted by the local police department, and $5,000 available through state money for new or out-of-state officers.

The department plans to host a recruitment event in Philadelphia next month, where base pay for graduates of the Philadelphia Police Academy begins at $66,183.

Police departments across the United States have been struggling with recruitment, with law enforcement leaders attributing such struggles, in part, to greater public scrutiny of police, generational differences in values, and law enforcement agencies battling each other to attract new recruits as younger officers resign and older officers retire.

According to WPLG Local 10, an ABC-affiliate based in Miami, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department went so far as to try and recruit spring breakers to their agency this year, while the Broward County Sheriff's Office reportedly “posts aggressive recruitment videos online.”

Some of these recruitment efforts, including the sign-on bonuses from OPD, are supported by state efforts. Under the cop-friendly Gov. DeSantis’s administration, the state has ramped up efforts to recruit new law enforcement officers by, in part, trying to lure officers to Florida from other states.

The new state budget, effective July 1, dedicates $17 million for the state’s third year of its Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Program, which initially launched in 2022.

The program, which aims to recruit people to law enforcement both within and outside of Florida, recently boasted reaching a milestone of nearly 5,000 awarded bonuses, totaling more than $32 million in bonuses awarded since the program's launch.

According to a news release shared in April by the Governor's Office, over 1,200 of the new recruits came from out of state, including 400 from what the office deems “anti-police jurisdictions,” such as California, Illinois and New York (where, let’s be frank, former police officer and NYC Mayor Eric Adams loves his cops).

“Florida’s investments in law enforcement recruitment are investments in the safety of our communities,” DeSantis shared in a prepared statement. “Florida is a law-and-order state, and we will continue to pursue policies that attract the best law enforcement officers in the nation to serve and protect Floridians.”

As Orlando Weekly readers know, the Orlando Police Department recently came under fire for aggressively shutting down a pro-Palestine protest in downtown Orlando last month after one protester began using a bullhorn without a permit.

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Photo by Dave Decker

Orlando Police Department officer deploying pepper spray on protesters calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. (May 15, 2024)

In body-worn camera footage released a few days later, listeners can hear one officer tell his colleagues to "bring it in with force"if an initial effort by two officers to address the issue was unsuccessful.

Officers deployed pepper spray, pushed and shoved protesters, and arrested two young people on felony charges of battery on a law enforcement officer as a rally involving older people and families with small children devolved into chaos.

Of course, Orlando police perform other tasks, too. Some officers and department heads create video clips celebrating Pride Month online, and remind the public that violent crime has actually declined this year. They work with mental health technicians to answer nonviolent 911 calls.

OPD eats up about 30% of the city's general fund, with a budget this fiscal year alone of over $200 million.

The Orlando Police Department staffs more than 800 sworn personnel, according to their LinkedIn page, where staff “are committed to reducing crime and maintaining livable neighborhoods.”

According to the department's webpage, new hires are required to sign a contract ahead of their official start stating that those who fail to complete their training, or who resign with less than two years on the job, will need to reimburse the city for the cost incurred. The cost, presumably for training, is not specified.

Related

‘Bring it in with force’: Orlando Police Department releases body cam footage from pro-Palestinian rally downtown Saturday: Orlando Police Department officers stormed the crowd, deployed pepper spray, pushed and shoved protesters, and arrested two.

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Orlando police officers set to get two pay raises this year (2024)
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