Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was joined by House Speaker Tom Craddick and members of the House and Senate in a press conference today calling for a pay raise for Department of Public Safety officers. "We have a problem recruiting today good men and women to serve as officers in the DPS and what we want to do is make sure we not only recruit the best people possible but that we keep them," said Craddick, "The only way to make sure we do keep those people is to offer them a standard of living so they will stay in those jobs and continue to serve the state in the way that they have." The reason the state is having difficulty recruiting and keeping DPS officers, according to DPS Association President Brian Hawthorne, is that the state offers a significantly smaller salary to its officers than their colleagues who work for city police forces. A starting DPS officer makes on average $1500 less than starting city officers, and a 20 year DPS veteran makes $14,000 less than their city counterparts. "All we are asking for is parity," said Hawthorne. Dewhurst said he and the Senate will work to find money for a pay raise for DPS officers and also to offer stipends to officers who learn certain new skills, such as a second language or an advanced degree. "In my judgment, the DPS must be our premier law enforcement agency in the state of Texas and an example to the nation," said Dewhurst.
The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) held a press conference today to announce their Campaign for Safe Families. The campaign seeks to increase funding for domestic violence victims services, such as shelters and counseling, by encouraging Texans to contact their state legislators. Unless the state increases funding, says TCFV officials, many of these services will be lost. According to TCFV, three women in Texas are killed by domestic abusers every week, while nearly a third of Texans have been severely abused by a partner. Senator Jane Nelson joined TCFV in pushing for more state money for domestic violence issues. "Don't forget that there are three women a week in Texas who die at the hands of a domestic abuser and many more that are living in fear day by day," said Nelson," We have to keep these shelters open."
The Senate will reconvene Thursday, February 3rd, at 10:00 A.M.