Increasing wages for Winnebago police officers may be just what the doctor ordered.
On June 13, the City Council approved a new seven-step pay scale to spark interest for two vacancies in the department.
And, it appears that their strategy may be working.
“I have received an application and we have done an interview,” says Police Chief Eric Olson. “Once I bring their name to the council for background information and get approved to hire them, their name will be released.”
Olson wasted no time posting the job openings on the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training website with the new pay scale.
The hourly pay range is $30.29 to $33.13 depending on experience with the top step being $36.16 per hour.
Olson has been in favor of increasing officer wages as a way to recruit new graduates from law enforcement schools.
“I do believe raising the wage gives Winnebago a chance of filling our positions,” he says.
The council has given Olson six months to see if he can hire officers at the higher wage levels recently approved.
The police department is designed to operate with two full-time officers and a police chief. But, Olson has been the lone officer since January.
Council members have discussed at meetings whether the city should keep its police force or contract with another area law enforcement agency for coverage and services.
They are considering a proposal from the Blue Earth Police Department to provide coverage from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. at a cost of $355,561 annually beginning in 2024. Winnebago Police Department’s budget this year is $366,886.