Five more police officers have resigned from the Gary, Indiana Police Department. The city is having a difficult time offering salaries to public safety workers that are competitive with those of neighboring counties.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Sgt. Pete Sormaz, Patrolman Diego Alvarez, Cpl. Jeffery Hornyak and Cpl. Daniel Quasney all resigned this past week. These resignations are the most recent examples of a trend of about 20 police resignations that have occurred in recent months at the department.
The City Council is now worried that the number of police officers in Gary is now below 200, even though the city budget allows for 235 police officers. Contributing to the problem, there have been no pay raises in the past several years for Gary public safety workers because of the city’s financial problems.
The public safety workers in Gary are the lowest paid, but busiest, in Lake County. Gary police are leaving their jobs for better pay and a less dangerous environment. Some are getting jobs with private industries. Gary police officers make $35,000-$39,000 a year, while officers in nearby Merrillville bring in at least $48,000 annually.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says she is working towards possible solutions to this problem with the Gary Fraternal Order of Police and Chief Larry McKinley.
“Anytime you’re $10,000 less than a neighboring department and have arguably the greatest risk, you don’t have to do the math. We get that. They need a sense that they’re valued,” she said, referring to the lower pay officers receive in Gary.