Voters recognized the need to pay law enforcement officers more when they approved Prop P, a half-cent sales tax last April. The Washington City Council, with the additional funding, has given police an $8,500 annual pay increase.

Starting pay now is $48,000 a year. The Washington Police Department has 28 officers, and one more was hired recently. Prop P was approved for jail/dispatching center improvements and pay raises for all commissioned law enforcement officers in the county. It is a 50-50 sharing sales tax for the two purposes. Allocation of the police and county sheriff’s deputies pay is based on the number of commissioned officers in each entity and in the sheriff’s department as of Jan. 1, 2018.

The estimate is the Washington Police Department will receive a total of $379,000 this year from the tax.

This sales tax has no sunset provision.

There is no question that an $8,500 annual pay hike is an eye-opener. But being a police officer is hazardous duty and officers are needed 24/7. Shifts work weekends and holidays. Each day officers can face dangerous situations. They often have to deal with armed people. The duty is more hazardous today than ever before.

With better pay there should be an increase in applicants for law enforcement openings, and retention of officers should improve. Better trained officers should be available for recruitment also.

The fact that there is no sunset provision for the tax will ensure the money will be there to meet pay requirements. That is, if there is no drastic downturn in the economy.

The voters spoke last April when they approved the tax. They recognized the need for improved safety.