Florence cops raise pay, HR and safety concerns, city responds

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FLORENCE, Colo. (KRDO) — 13 Investigations uncovered unrest in the small southern Colorado town of Florence where more than a quarter of the police force could quit.

High-ranking city officers say they were promised raises years ago but still haven’t received their salaries.

“I don’t know how to keep this police department united without talking, without the issues being resolved,” Florence Deputy Chief Bill Vinelli told the council.

Vinelli said he was denied a previously approved executive session scheduled for Thursday evening to discuss issues facing the police department.

“After receiving legal advice, it has been determined that tonight’s talking points not only are not appropriate for an executive session, but are in fact matters for the City Manager to deal with,” Councilor Melissa said. Hardy.

Vinelli told elected officials in open session that he had a list of several officers’ concerns. 13 Investigations obtained a copy of these matters through a public records request. The main concerns are pay gaps, the lack of an external HR department and security issues at PD, including cameras not always working.

“We don’t have a union, but I feel like I’m a union president for the whole city. I have everyone coming to me – other departments and I’m just trying , I’m just trying to do the best thing,” Vinelli mentioned.

Florence police chiefs want to raise starting salaries for officers by just under $2 more an hour. That would bring Florence PD’s patrol rate to $22.04 to match the starting salary of the nearby Canon City Police Department.

There are currently 14 agents working at Florence PD and we have learned that the city is now at risk of losing them if the change does not happen soon.

“The problem we face here is that I have four police officers who tell me that it is not a threat that they go elsewhere for some of these problems,” Vinelli said.

Several board members promised to address the issue at the next board meeting. Acting City Manager Sean Garrett agreed to send a report to council members with his action plan to resolve the issues before the meeting.

“We have to let the process run its full course. And I think that might be frustrating right now because it’s not moving as quickly as people would like and I appreciate that frustration,” Councilwoman Hardy said.

13 Investigations reached out to the Board, Acting Director and CFO for comment on DP issues.

Regarding salaries, Director Garrett said the budget was approved by the board for increases of up to 4% for all employees. He says after a review, it was determined that employees would receive 2% raises with the possibility that the additional 2% would be available mid-year.

It’s a matter of opinion that a two percent (2%) raise is a slap in the face, especially when municipalities elsewhere are making deep budget cuts and foregoing raises or hiring altogether,” Garrett said. in part.

In response to four officers possibly leaving the department, Garrett said:

It’s unfortunate because we value all of our leaders and employees. Employees looking for a job
elsewhere for various reasons. Those who wish to seek employment elsewhere are
certainly free to do so. We want all employees to thrive and improve at all times,
whether with the City or elsewhere.

Sean Garrett
Acting City Manager

You can read the full statement from the acting city manager here.

If you have a tip or a lead for our ongoing investigation of the city of Florence, email us at [email protected]

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