A new push will be coming to increase pay for Indiana State Police troopers after a study confirmed their salaries trail those of officers in some neighboring states and local police departments.
A report presented this month to the State Budget Committee says starting Indiana troopers are paid about $41,000 a year, which is at least $12,000 less than new officers in Indianapolis, Michigan and at Illinois police agencies.
According to the Indiana State Police Alliance, at least 28 of the state's some 800 troopers have left before retirement since the start of 2015, with about half taking jobs with other police departments.
Alliance lobbyist Steve Buschmann said the Indiana State Police should be better able to retain its troopers, and that his group would be seeking a pay boost during next year's legislative session.
"We're in real hope we're going to get something significant, because that's what it's going to take. It can't be 1 or 2 percent," Buschmann told WRTV. "That will not make us competitive with other police agencies."
The study was started last year after some lawmakers raised concerns about salaries.
Troopers receive annual experience raises until they reach 20 years, but a 2 percent increase to their base pay that took effect in 2015 was the first such increase in seven years.
State Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said he doesn't consider the trooper pay situation a crisis but thinks the state can do better.
"It's important that we get these kinds of things right," he told WXIN-TV. "If you have good employees, happy employees and committed employees, you're going to get a better performance for the taxpayer."
The study, conducted by an outside consulting firm, looked at salaries in Indiana's four neighboring state police agencies and seven departments of various sizes around Indiana.
Indiana's starting trooper pay topped that of Kentucky, along with the Scottsburg police and sheriff's departments in Marion and Knox counties. Indiana salaries were less than those in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and the Indianapolis, Valparaiso, Fort Wayne and Hamilton County departments.