- Associated Press - Friday, August 12, 2016

SELMA, Ala. (AP) - Police in the west Alabama city of Selma failed to report for duty for a second straight day Friday as part of a sickout to demand pay raises, authorities said.

The same 10 officers who called in sick Thursday did the same thing the following day, The Selma Times-Journal quoted Police Chief John Brock as saying. Brock said he didn’t know what would happen Saturday.

“I hope one of their representatives will tell us something or let us know something, but right now I haven’t heard anything,” he said.

After hearing rumors of the sickout, Brock said he called in all the department’s supervisors.

“We’re well protected,” The Montgomery Advertiser quoted the chief as saying on Thursday. He also noted that the department can staff all patrols with detectives, part-time employees and retirees.

Mayor George Evans said the city also can seek assistance from other local and state agencies if needed.

The lead prosecutor in the county, District Attorney Michael Jackson, said he supported the officers seeking a pay raise. Officers in Selma have to deal with violent crime, he said, and they should be paid more.

The Times-Journal reported about 20 officers met with Evans and city council members for more than three hours Thursday. The officers left the meeting without any guarantees, officer Michael Kiser told the paper.

Officers are concerned about the safety of the community, fair pay, a safe working environment, equipment upgrades, fair promotions and hiring, among other issues, Kiser said.

The starting hourly wage for Selma patrol officers is $12.90 per hour, and the highest-paid patrol officer makes an hourly wage of $15.70 per hour, the Selma newspaper reported.

The dispute was a hot topic of conversation around town, the Montgomery newspaper reported.

“I’m surprised at how low the pay is,” said Connie Agee, a Selma resident. “I don’t know if a strike is the best way to get attention, but they do need to make more money.”

The last permanent pay increases for officers were in 2007. Since then, all city employees have received one-time bonuses each year around Christmas of as much as $1,600.

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Information from: Times Journal, https://www.selmatimesjournal.com/

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