CUMBERLAND – Town officials approved a 24.5% raise for police officers next year in an effort to be more competitive with surrounding law enforcement agencies.

Cumberland Town Council voted unanimously earlier this month to amend the town’s 2023 salary ordinance to reflect the pay hike. It followed an initial decision to grant a 7.5% raise.

Ben Lipps, Cumberland town manager, noted at the council meeting that one issue on officials’ minds has been hiring and retaining police officers. Despite the 7.5% raise, the town still faced potentially losing officers, he continued. That prompted him, Cumberland Police Chief Suzanne Crooke-Woodland and Cumberland Clerk-treasurer Erica Salmon to explore a larger raise for officers.

The 24.5% raise brings the wage for a Cumberland Metropolitan Police Department patrolman to $32.08 per hour.

Lipps said the raise for police officers will be initially funded partially from over-budgeted funds to the town’s redevelopment commission. Long-term funding, he continued, will come from utility payments in lieu of taxes the town is working on and revenue growth the town is experiencing from residential property taxes.

“We feel like this is a really good move,” Lipps said. “It puts us a lot closer in the Hancock County market.”

McCordsville’s 2023 salary ordinance lists wages for the town’s police officers ranging from $25.49 to $32.70 an hour. Fortville’s range from $21.05 to $28.04. In New Palestine, police officer hourly wages will range from the mid-20s to the low 30s next year. Greenfield ranges from the high 20s to mid-30s. Hancock County’s 2023 salary ordinance lists annual pay as opposed to hourly, and the sheriff’s department ranges from $57,000 for new deputies to $87,000 for the chief deputy.

Breck Terheide, a Cumberland Town Council member retired from over 33 years with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said he’s grateful for the work Lipps, Woodland and Salmon put into finding the funds for the raises. He expects it will aid the police department in its recruitment efforts.

“It’s becoming a more dangerous job … and it’s getting worse,” Terheide said.

Anna Pea was among council members’ unanimous support for the raise for police officers as well.

“We want them to be safe and have a good lifestyle,” she said.

Woodland said council members made history with their decision.

“This is the most money that these officers have made,” she said.