Pflugerville Police Department has shifted additional funds toward increasing salaries as well as creating a new part-time support position in fiscal year 2015-16.
When compared to other cities, Police Chief Chuck Hooker said one of the biggest challenges the department has faced in recent years is there is not enough crime for the city to be eligible to receive many of the grants available.
“It’s a Catch-22. If you take a look at our crime statistics, they have stayed relatively level for the last few years,” Hooker said.
According to city officials, $484,392 was provided to increase patrol officers’ salaries with the intention of improving overall law enforcement quality.
Hooker said with attention focused on departmental salary increases, the city was able to give the vast majority of patrol officers an 11.4 percent pay raise.
“We’ve been behind the salary curve in this area for quite awhile, and we wanted to get those numbers brought up to where we’re competitive,” he said.
According to city officials, the approval of budget requests for police department funding resulted in adding the new position at a cost of $13,513.
With the increase in financial support, the Victim Services division has added a part-time staff member. The department has been helping community members affected by crime for more than 17 years, and Director Judy Allen has worked almost exclusively as a single staff member since the program began in 1998.
In fiscal year 2015, Pflugerville police officers called on victim services advocates to help with 210 calls.
“It’s something we’ve needed for quite awhile,” Assistant Police Chief Jim McLean said. “In that position, they’re tasked with helping crime victims reach resources quickly and help them when they’re in trouble. These are very important and valuable positions.”
Karen Enriquez, who worked as a teacher for 35 years, filled the new position and was familiar with helping children, adults and families in crisis. She became a Victim Services advocate three years ago, and with her bilingual skills, she said she wants to give a greater voice to residents needing assistance in both English and Spanish.
Enriquez is also planning on implementing a crisis plan in Spanish, and she and Allen would like to increase their outreach services to prevent domestic violence.
“We’re very big on crime prevention,” Hooker said. “We recognize that it’s much easier to prevent crime than it is to solve it, and we spend a lot of time and resources in doing that.”