State troopers deserve a pay raise as well

Among the applause lines in West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s State of the State speech last month was his announcement that, for the first time in four years, the state has enough money to train a new group of State Police troopers.

So strained were the state’s finances during that period that funds were not available to offer a cadet class at the State Police Academy in Institute.

But in addition to providing training for new troopers, state government needs to ensure qualified men and women will apply for the job. It is not the most lucrative.

Though most attention regarding public employee pay has focused on teachers for several days, the state needs to adjust salaries in other positions, too. Most critical, as we have noted are corrections officers in state prisons and regional jails.

State police also are finding it increasingly difficult to attract the caliber of dedication and ability the service requires.

Fortunately, state legislators are aware of that. A bill introduced in the state Senate, SB 267, would provide for State Police personnel to receive pay raises averaging about 1 percent. That would take a trooper fresh out of the academy up to $41,690 a year, from the current $41,258. A sergeant would make $48,993, up from $48,561 — an increase of less than 1 percent.

No doubt Justice and most lawmakers would like to do even better. With state finances improved but still uncertain, however, that may have to wait until next year.

Ensuring the State Police are at full strength is more critical now than has been the case for many years. Blame the drug abuse crisis for that.

So doing what we can to offer decent pay is vital. Both houses of the Legislature should approve SB 267.

Raises in the 1-percent range seem little enough to do for men and women who are willing, ready and able to put their lives on the line for us — and sometimes do.