TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Topeka police officers are now no longer required to live in Shawnee County.
The city council approved multiple changes to their contract with the police union.
“I think it’s great that the governing body continues to prioritize public safety. I think we have a competitive compensation package to compete in today’s world in the very challenging environment of law enforcement recruiting and hiring,” said Topeka Police Chief Bryan Wheeles.
Instead of a 30-minute distance within Shawnee County, TPD officers will now be able to reside within a distance that allows them to report to work in an emergency within 60 minutes.
“I think residency is always one of those criteria people use when deciding if they want to come and work for an agency, in this case a municipality… a police department. I think residency plays a big part, I mean, I think it’s very important for people who have families and so on to decide where they want to live based on where they have to, to meet those job requirements,” Wheeles said.
The board also changed the pay schedule for police officers, shortening the time it takes to reach the top of the pay scale and raising wages by 1.25%.
“I voted yes because it will help bring in new officers, but it will also help keep the officers we have. If you sometimes don’t have the staff power to fill all the shifts, you have mandated overtime…things like that and they create burnout,” Topeka City Council member Brett Kell said.
The board also passed a resolution for the Kansas Department of Commerce to create a rural housing incentive district near SW 42nd and Wanamaker.
It would allow a developer to recoup some of the investment through increased property tax revenue. The City says the district could help address a housing shortage.