MERRILLVILLE | At one time, Merrillville had one of the highest paid police departments in Lake County, according to the Merrillville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 168.
After years without raises, the officer compensation in Merrillville is among the lowest in the county, police said.
Lodge 168 is hoping to change that.
During a Public Safety Committee meeting Wednesday, the FOP asked the Town Council to provide a $10,000 pay increase for each sworn in police officer in Merrillville.
The Police Department has 50 officers after two were sworn in Tuesday.
The raises are among several changes the FOP is seeking.
If a $10,000 pay increase is provided, Merrillville would be in the middle of what Lake County communities pay officers, police said.
Curtis Minchuk, vice president of Lodge 168, said living expenses continue to increase, but officer pay has been the same for several years.
"It's harder to raise a family," he said.
He also told town officials many officers have left the Merrillville Police Department to take higher paying jobs elsewhere.
Councilman Tom Goralczyk said there have been estimates regarding how much additional funding Merrillville looks to receive from the income tax in Lake County, but town leaders are uncertain what that figure will be.
Clerk-Treasurer Eugene Guernsey said the entire council agrees Merrillville officers are underpaid, but it's difficult to make any financial commitments until Merrillville is certain how much additional funding it will receive.
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.
No decisions were made Wednesday. The FOP's proposal is expected to be discussed by the entire council during its Nov. 26 meeting.
Minchuk said the FOP would like the council to make a decision by the end of the year. Lodge 168 wouldn't be opposed to extending that deadline if the council is showing an effort to work with police, he said.