MERRILLVILLE | The Merrillville Town Council's response to multiple changes sought by the Merrillville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 168 appears to be forthcoming.
In November, Lodge 168 asked the council for multiple changes, including a $10,000 pay increase for each sworn in Merrillville police officer.
Since then, Town Council members met in two closed executive sessions about the matter. Another executive session is scheduled Tuesday.
The council is expected to finalize a proposal in response to the requests and provide the proposal to FOP leadership.
Curtis Minchuk, president of Lodge 168, said the proposal will be reviewed by a FOP committee before the lodge makes a decision to accept it or continue negotiating.
Police said the officer raises are needed for several reasons.
Officer compensation in Merrillville is among the lowest in Lake County because wages for Merrillville police have been stagnant for several years, police said.
Many officers have left the Merrillville Police Department to take higher paying jobs elsewhere, according to Lodge 168.
In November, Minchuk said it has become more difficult to raise a family because officer pay has been the same but living expenses continue to increase.
Details of the council's proposal haven't been announced, but multiple town leaders expressed a willingness to increase pay for Merrillville police.
Town Councilman Richard Hardaway said Merrillville "should do everything we can" to make officer pay similar to other police departments, but the salary increases would have to be done without creating a negative impact on other town services.
"I support the FOP," Hardaway said, "I appreciate everything the Police Department does."
Other changes the FOP has asked for include providing take-home cars for all officers, changes to longevity pay and an additional day off each month for officers who work 12-hour shifts.
Council President Carol Miano said the council is making an "100 percent effort" to provide raises and make other changes for the Police Department "because they definitely work hard for our town."