It seems that the folks at Louisiana State Police (LSP) headquarters over at Independence Park rather pompously refer to Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers as Gray Shirts because DPS uniform shirts are gray as opposed to the blue worn by State Troopers (and we thought the Blue-Gray business ended 151 years ago. Not true. We’re told that a State Trooper will not obey a direct order from a DPS captain. Can’t you just imagine an Army private ignoring an order from a Marine captain? And they say the FBI, Homeland Security and the CIA don’t cooperate.).
In the wake of significant pay raises for State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson and his inner circle and revelations of the glaring disparity in the salaries of (LSP) and (DPS) officers, it’s interesting to go back a couple of years and review an email Edmonson sent to DPS personnel. Our interpretations are inserted in bold face parentheses:
From: Mike Edmonson Sent: Friday, June 27, 2014 5:19 PM
To: _DPS_Commissioned Personnel_DPSPolice Subject: Personal Note
As you likely noticed, several e-mails have been sent to all commissioned personnel over the last few weeks discussing HB 872 and how that piece of legislation impacts troopers. Apparently those e-mails have fueled concerns and in some cases discontent within the ranks of DPS police. Let me reassure all of you that you remain a very important part of the DPS family (“But don’t any of you DPS lieutenants or captains try giving orders to my troopers.”) and while HB 872 does not specifically affect you (“It doesn’t affect you, so just keep your mouths shut”), my staff and I are well aware of the deficiencies within your current pay ranges. (“Guess what? Those deficiencies are about to become even greater.”)
The “fix” for that problem is somewhat more complicated than the “fix” for State Police because DPS personnel are part of the Civil Service classified service while troopers are part of the State Police classified service. Adjustments to State Police salaries may be made independent of Civil Service and thus do not affect the parity of all other employees who are part of that classified service, typically a major impediment to salary adjustments. We are however undeterred by the challenges of operating within the current structure of Civil Service. (“We at LSP are getting ours.”) and I have directed the staff of Operational Development to begin evaluating and analyzing the current pay levels for DPS police officers. (“It takes two-plus years to do this evaluation? Funny it didn’t take that long to get your $43,000 raise.”) In particular we want to identify which other Civil Service positions are similar in minimum qualifications and duties and thereafter evaluate the salary schedules of those positions in comparison to ours.
It should be noted that all eligible DPS officers received their 4% merit adjustments last year and will receive another this year amounting to an 8% total salary increase. (“Meanwhile, State Troopers will be getting 30 percent bumps and I’m gonna get a 32percent raise.”) Troopers, on the other hand, received anywhere from 0-3% merit adjustments. Moreover, the approval of HB 872 by the legislature is only the preliminary step in implementing a new pay grid for troopers. The new fund established to achieve that goal has a current balance of zero. We fully anticipate that sufficient monies will be accumulated over time to make the new grid a reality, but like the study and adjustment of DPS salaries, it will take time. (“Don’t hold your breath, Gray Shirts.”)
I understand the financial urgency that some of you feel at being improperly compensated and the frustration with the required process. But it has been disheartening to me that some within the ranks of DPS have seen fit to anonymously complain to legislators, the media and others outside our organization about feeling neglected and mistreated. (“That’s because if I ever learn who you are, you will be punished.”) Such communications are counterproductive to our efforts and can actually undermine our attempts to make adjustments to DPS salaries by drawing unnecessary attention to our plans. (“We have to keep our plans secret.”) Please understand that such communications put at risk the success of our efforts on your behalf. (“Strike that ‘on your behalf’ part.)
The study by Operational Development is the first step in what can sometimes be a laborious process but we will move as quickly as possible at finding an appropriate solution. Once our recommendations are finalized we will work with Civil Service in an effort to address the compensation issues. I will personally appear on your behalf before the Commission to make the case for pay adjustments (“What part of ‘Don’t hold your breath, Gray Shirts’ do you not understand?”). I pledge to keep you informed of our progress (So why has it been more than two years since we’ve heard from you?) and I would ask that you be patient during this process and have faith in me and my staff as I do in each of you. (We’ve seen what faith in you and your staff got us…nothing.) Be safe and may God continue to bless our families and guide each one of us. I will be visiting your sections soon.
Colonel Michael D. Edmonson