By Jack Fink

RICHARDSON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — Police officers in Richardson say low staffing and uncompetitive pay aren’t just problems in the big cities.

The President of the Richardson Police Officer’s Fraternal Order of Police, Sgt. Eric Willadsen said, “Our main fight is we need more manpower.”

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Willadsen said the department needs more officers to respond to an increased number of calls coming in, mainly because of newly built apartments and an increase in residents.

“Anywhere from 15 to 25 officers right now would benefit us greatly. It helps the morale of the officers that work for the city as far as being able to get time off with their families.”

Richardson Police Chief Jimmy Spivey said, “Could we use a few more officers? Certainly.”

Chief Spivey said the department is now trying to figure out how many more sworn officers it needs than the 169 already on staff.

To do that, they’re looking at how many calls for service they receive, how long it takes to answer those calls, and for how long it takes officers to arrive on scene.

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He said they’ve seen a slight bump in the call volume, but that he expects it will continue to rise. “I want to emphasize though that I don’t believe we’re in a desperate situation. Our response times are still very good and our crime is low.”

The Chief said he will brief council members about the results of the department’s study after the first of the year.

Sgt. Willadsen said an officer’s maximum pay, more than $84,000, is among the lowest in the area.

“We’ve brought this up the past several years as we saw our pay dropping consistently.”

Chief Spivey said last month, the department raised its starting pay to more than $67,000 which he said is now the second highest in the area.

He also said they’ve accelerated the time for officers to reach maximum pay. “Our officers actually tap out in their new step pay program in five years. Many of the other departments don’t top out until after 10 years. Some don’t top out until 18 or 20 years.”

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Willadsen said another disadvantage is that they can’t qualify for retirement until after they’ve worked for 25 years, while it’s 20 years for most other departments.