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Help for Havana: Town wants more money for officers

A 5% bump in pay for state law enforcement officers in Florida went into effect last year
Posted at 6:48 PM, Jul 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-19 18:48:17-04

HAVANA — Lieutenant Khang Bui could have chosen anywhere in Florida to be a police officer, but he chose the town of Havana for the small-town community feel and the relationships.

"I fell in love with the people and fell in love with the town" said Lieutenant Bui.

Known to people in Havana as Bui, he has has served at the Havana Police Department for 13 years.

"You have to buy in you have to be a part of the community" said Lieutenant Bui.

Despite making less than other officers in the state, Lieutenant Bui continues to serve no matter the challenges the job may bring.

"When we leave in the morning, and we kiss our children goodbye we don't know if were going to come back" said Lieutenant Bui.

A 5% bump in pay for state law enforcement officers in Florida went into effect last year. The new starting salary for state officers ranges between $50k-$60k a year. in Havana, officer salaries start at $40,900 a year.

"Young officers that are getting into the profession, can already get a $10k paise raise in the start of their career going into these bigger agencies" said Havana Police Chief, Tracy Smith

Chief Smith says what the state did for officers was a good thing, and feels more can be done for smaller agencies. Last year, HPD lost four officers in four months.

"I'm in no way saying that the state officers don't deserve it because they do so do the county officers" said Chief Smith. "But the small towns have been left out and that is what's scary."

Compared to other agency salaries in the Big Bend, the starting salary for Tallahassee Police Officers is $60k a year. Compared to Leon County Deputies starting at $50k.

Winston Weatherspoon has known Lieutenant Bui for 16 years. He believes that having officers like Bui is vital to keep their town safe.

"With him and the rest of the officers that work with him they're good" Weatherspoon said. "Him, he is very special because he cares about what he does, and he cares about the people that's at will.

Chief Smith believes that it takes a big heart like Bui's to help protect their small town.

"It's a community, it's like the Andy Griffith show, you just have a feel for the town."

The salaries for officers is not the only challenge they are facing. taxpayers now have to pay more for cars, radars, transmitters due to rising cost.