• Home
  • >
  • Business
  • >
  • Low pay scale for Huntingdon police officers addressed in meeting

Low pay scale for Huntingdon police officers addressed in meeting

DISCUSSION – Public Safety Director Walter Smothers (left back to camera) discusses with the Safety Committee the issues of low pay being endured by the police department. Clockwise on other side of table are committee members Lori Nolen, Charles Hodges, Mayor Nina Smothers and Carl Byars. Photo by Shirley Nanney
POLICE AT SAFETY COMMITTEE MEETING – Police officers who attended the Huntingdon Safety Committee meeting on Jan. 18. in front row (from left) are Dee Baker, Jackie Allen and Brad Allen. On second row is Ethan Parham. Photo by Shirley Nanney



The town of Huntingdon is losing police officers due to low pay.

That fact was discussed at a meeting of Huntingdon’s Safety Committee on Jan. 18 that was called by committee chairman Andrew Maddox with committee members Will Atkins, Carl Byars, Lori Nolen, Charles Hodges and Mayor Nina Smothers in attendance. In on the discussion was council member Kelly Eubanks, who is not on the committee, but sat nearby listening and taking notes.

Public Safety Director Walter Smothers, who is over both the Police and Fire Departments led the discussion.

Before the hour and a half meeting had concluded several of the police officers in attendance had spoken. Some issues were also discussed that involved the fire department.

Maddox said he had been hearing about some issues in the police department, mainly about the pay being at least $2 an hour below any of the surrounding towns.

Smothers told committee members that in preparing for this meeting his thoughts were about remaining positive but at the same time addressing the pay issue.

Even his pay scale was much lower than other police chiefs in the area.

“I am here (in Huntingdon), but I could be somewhere else as other officers could be,” he said.

Some of the things that need addressing are travel expense, pay, day off a month for fire and police departments.

Other issues to look at are sign-on bonuses and health insurance.

“The police department is down to four cars,” said Smothers. “Six cars were requested in the budget.”

A Huntingdon patrolman’s pay per hour is $18.20 which is the lowest among 12 other law enforcement departments. The highest per hour rate is that of Henderson which is $23.32 per hour.

Other pay per hour in other towns for patrolman are: McKenzie, $19.20; Camden, $20.59; and Carroll County, $18.61. 

A sergeant’s pay per hour in Huntingdon is $19.40 compared to the highest which $24.14 in Newbern.

In the comparison of a lieutenant’s pay, Huntingdon’s is $20.60 in comparison to Newbern’s which is $25.46. In the assistant’s chief’s pay per hour, Huntingdon’s is $20.60 as compared to $25.46 for Newbern’s pay. 

As for the chief’s pay, Smothers’ pay is $25 an hour compared to McKenzie’s at $$30.57, Bruceoton, $26.76; Camden, $27; with the highest being Newbern at $35.20. Huntingdon’s is the lowest of any of the departments.

Huntingdon’s retirement system is not in line with other departments, according to Smothers.

“It’s causing us to lose people,” he said.

The town’s sewer project that cost $2,611,000 to fund was brought up during the meeting.

Apparently, the police and fire departments figured that some of this money that was a part of American Rescue Plan Act funds would be shared by them.

Byars pointed out the police pay is an ongoing problem and not a new one, but is now festering.

“Something needs to be done, but we want to keep positive,” he said. “It’s at a point when officers become certified they go somewhere else.”

Hodges said the pay has always been a situation.

“How can we do more for the police department?” he asked. “We are concerned about our police department. We lost our mayor (Dale Kelley).”

He said he was disappointed when he saw the figures of what other departments were making compared to Huntingdon.

“I’m ready to raise taxes if it is what it takes to get our police department in shape,” he said.

Maddox noted the council has a few months to consider the situation before the budget is finalized.

Nolen agreed that the committee has now been informed with good information which will allow the situation to be looked into.

Smothers said the police department has the best group of people that the department has ever had.

“I could not be any prouder,” he said. “As you know we lost our mayor and it seemed to put everything in a tailspin. I agree with you that the departments needs have been ignored and placed at the bottom of the list.

“I want to work with the town council and mayor to get to where we need to be,” he concluded.

The fire department situation was also discussed during the meeting.

Fireman Mike Murphy noted that station 3 on Northwood Drive has roof and flooding issues and Station 1 has insulation and mold problems.

“The employees will have to be taken out of the office,” said Murphy. “A new building can be built for training, go back to station 2 on Armory St., or go back to one station and lose ISO points due to having only one station,” said Murphy.

 “What can we do now?” ask Byars. “We are a team. We want your guys to know we are working it out. We will honestly to work on it to get it worked out.”

Police officer Ethan Parham spoke up from the audience.

“You had a chance,” he said. “We (the police) got less money than any part-time people. It’s not our fault. It was free money. Other towns bigger and smaller got theirs worked out. Other towns don’t have reasons”.

Parham was speaking about the funds the town spent on the sewer system.

“This was a long time deal,” said Byars in response. “The lagoons had to be addressed.”

The mayor said the town was in a situation where their sewer and water system was failing. You have no choice about providing safe water.”

Related Posts

The Carroll County News-Leader is a full-service, premium newspaper and news website serving Carroll County, Tennessee. We take advantage of today’s digital technology to deliver you the news that matters to you in ways that are only possible in this platform and in print.
Contact us: [email protected]

© Copyright 2024 

newsleaderonline.com, 84 Elks Lodge Rd. Huntingdon, TN