There’s another fix Isom is considering this year: Higher pay.
Isom said he hopes to evaluate the pay schedule but it “takes some time” to get approved through the city.
Letters obtained by the Post-Dispatch this spring show that police Chief John Hayden has been appealing to the city personnel director for dispatcher pay raises since at least November 2018, when he wrote that understaffing already made it “difficult to maintain public safety standards that are critical to our accreditation.”
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Dispatchers got a substantial raise in February 2020 when then-Mayor Lyda Krewson raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all city employees, bringing the starting salary up to $31,200 from $25,870.
The city in February then approved another pay bump to raise the starting salary to about $38,000 from $31,200.
But the latest wage increase applied only to new employees. While entry-level salaries jumped by thousands, many dispatchers with five to 10 years on the job still make about $40,000, not much more than those going through the 11-month training period.
In part because of this and the increasing demands, several experienced dispatchers have quit or retired in recent months, according to two dispatchers who asked for anonymity in speaking with the Post-Dispatch for fear of disciplinary action.