CITY OF NEWBURGH – With crime and overtime spending significantly down, Newburgh’s City Council is open to boosting the salaries of a police force that continues to lose experienced officers to higher-paying municipalities.

A seven-year contract approved in 2016 boosted starting salaries and included annual raises for Newburgh’s officers. But the starting pay is still significantly below what entry-level officers receive in nearby jurisdictions, which have become a landing spot for city officers.

“I want to raise their pay,” Councilman Anthony Grice said. “But at the same time, we have to lower their overtime.”

“We want to figure out how can we bump these salaries so that they’re competitive in a way we don’t lose our shirt at the same time,” Mayor Torrance Harvey said Monday during a budget work session for the police department.

Newburgh has had no homicides and just three bullet-to-body shootings this year. Between 2012 and 2016, the city averaged 47 shooting victims before seeing a drop to 17 last year.

A discussion about raising salaries arose during a briefing Monday about more good news: the police department’s $351,000 reduction in overtime spending as of Sept. 14.

Newburgh’s City Council approved a seven-year contract in March 2016 that included annual raises averaging 1.7 percent.

The Newburgh department’s $43,628 starting salary is still far below those at other departments. Salaries for a Town of Newburgh police officer start at $54,574. In New Windsor starting pay is $50,138.67. Under a contract that expired at the end of 2016, Kingston officers started at $50,198.

Thirteen officers left Newburgh in 2018, Lt. Frank LaBrada told the City Council on Monday. Budgeted for 85 sworn officers, the department currently has 75.

In order to continue a years-long reduction in violent crime, the department needs to be stabilized, police Chief Doug Solomon said.

“This attrition rate is literally mind-boggling,” he said. “In my entire career, I’ve never seen a revolving door like this.”

lsparks@th-record.com