Complaining Police Officer Returns to the SAPD
SAN ANGELO, TX — A month ago, Angelo State University Police Officer Tina Burks wrote an opinion piece in the local paper explaining she could no longer work for the San Angelo Police Department because the department has no step increases in pay for years of service. Yesterday, the San Angelo Police Department announced Ms. Burks was coming back to the SAPD.
How someone so vocal, to have written an editorial published in the paper decrying pay and work environment in San Angelo’s police department, desire to come back? Burks’ stated issue just four weeks ago was with “the issues that SAPD had with the City of San Angelo.”
The City and San Angelo Coalition of Police (SACOP) began a late round of negotiations over money mid-year. SACOP wanted step pay raises reinstated. In 2014, SACOP agreed to forego step pay increases in exchange for substantial across-the-board pay raises that were enacted this year, over City staff objections. Councilman Lane Carter led the charge in favor of SACOP, explaining that if the staff agreed in Meet & Confer, the labor negotiations framework between the City and SACOP, then the City must honor that agreement. The City Council agreed to override City Manager Daniel Valenzuela’s request and instated the pay raises.
Implementing the pay raises was delayed because of a drastic drop in revenue to the City’s general fund caused by lower sales tax collections in the post-2014 downturn.
The total cost of the raises was north of $635,000 annually. The City staff had to move money to pay for those raises out of the road maintenance budget.
After getting the raise, SACOP went back to the negotiating table to renege on their agreement to forego step pay increases. The City estimated the cost of reinstating step raises would exceed $300,000 annually.
Burks was not happy with the delayed implementation of the raises, or the trade SACOP made with the City of foregoing step pay increases to get those raises. “Years passed and before I knew it the officers from the three academies after mine were making the same salary as I was. I was happy for them but it became frustrating as other departments tried to recruit me. They had pay steps to offer with years of experience,” she wrote a month ago.
Burks also complained about the 12-hour shifts implemented by Chief Frank Carter. Scheduling police patrolmen on 12-hour shifts was a campaign issue for Carter, who saw it as a way to maximize manpower.
Today, SAPD has roughly a four-day on, with four-day off schedule. Burks complained, “It was nice to have a four-day weekend every other week but I spent my first day and a half off sleeping because I was so exhausted, and my last day off was spent getting ready to go back to work.”
Chief Frank Carter, who is always recruiting, didn’t flinch when we asked about his newest transfer. “Guess they like 12-hour shifts better than 8. Our pay is still better than ASU. We will work on the step pay increases,” he stated in a text.
Burks was re-hired underneath the Sept. 30 deadline. The last day of the month was also the last day the Meet & Confer agreement was in place that allowed lateral transfers from other law enforcement agencies into the San Angelo Police Department. As of Oct. 1, Burks wouldn’t have the opportunity to return to the SAPD and its 12-hour shifts.
For Chief Carter and the rest of San Angelo, Burks is an outstanding officer, as can be seen here in our crime reporting.