AIKEN, S.C. — The Aiken City Council unanimously voted to raise pay for Aiken Public Safety officers and dispatchers. According to the city manager Stuart Bedenbaugh, pay will increase by seven percent in October.
“The first responsibility of a municipality is the citizen’s safety,” Kay Brohl, an Aiken City Councilwoman, explains. “We need to make sure that Public Safety has what they need to keep us all safe.”
The raise comes as Chief Charles Barranco works to grow his team.
“This makes us very competitive with surrounding agencies and agencies across the state,” Barranco says.
Recruiting new officers and firefighters has become difficult. Agencies are competing with one another for a small pool of candidates.
“Our officers are cross trained,” Brohl notes. “They’re not only police officers, they’re also firefighters. That makes them very valuable to other entities.”
This is the second pay raise in two years for Aiken Public Safety. While some agencies considered defunding law enforcement, Aiken is going in the opposite direction.
“I got calls from chiefs across South Carolina and Georgia saying, ‘That’s pretty impressive that the council has made that big of a step.’ The men and women of this department’s heart is in the right place. I think it makes it easier to support them knowing that.”