The push is on for Detroit police pay raises as numbers dwindle

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Detroit police officers put their lives on the line every day but their salary doesn't reflect that.

But now there's a push to get them more money. The Detroit police union and Mayor Mike Duggan will be meeting next week to discuss a wage increase.

If they come to an agreement which according to sources, is likely, a pay increase could happen before the end of the year.

Right now everyone agrees Detroit police are not being paid enough for the work they're doing.

"We cannot compete with other departments in our immediate area," said Willie Bell, vice chair of the police board of commissioners. "We can't even compete nationally."

The pay is too low,  the risk is too high. That's the conclusion a number of cops have come to when it comes to working in Detroit.

Bell says that could change.

Detroit Police Officers Association President Mark Diaz says it cannot happen soon enough.

"When our officers are leaving and going to work elsewhere, they simply are going for more money," Diaz said. "They're going for better wages, better benefits. 

"And it's something they have to do on behalf of their families. It's something you can't fault them for."

A dollar bill Band-Aid could help stem DPD's hemorrhaging of officers. Police departments from other cities and states poach Detroit cops.

About 15 officers turn in their badges every month and there are fewer rank and file police officers on the street in Detroit.

"It is the lowest it's been," Diaz said. "Right now we're at 1,600 police officers for DPOA members. Those are the front line police officers. That is including the 25 members we have in the police academy."

So, what's a reasonable remuneration for the men and women suiting up in one of America's most iconic and dangerous cities?

Diaz says many police departments start their officers off at $40,000 to 43,000 a year. In Detroit cops come out of the academy making about $29,000.

That is roughly $14 an hour. If fast food protestors had their way, they'd make more flipping burgers than police protecting and serving.

"We're talking about police officers who are doing the hardest job around," Diaz said. "So when we talk about a suitable wage, we can't  compare what our officers do in Detroit to suburban departments we have to go above that and I'm going to continue to fight until we get there."

But Daryll Brown a retired deputy chief who spent nearly 30 years with DPD is not convinced more money could be the only fix.

"This should help," Brown said. "This should at least be the starting point. But they have to do some surveys and ask some people. The exit interviews are key to asking some of the people why they're actually leaving DPD. It might not be for just money."

The department can't replenish its ranks fast enough. There are 25 cadets in the police academy that will take six months to be trained. In that span at the current rate, about 60 officers will have left the department.