Alexandria law enforcement, first responders fighting for 10% pay raise

In Northern Virginia, firefighters, medics and police officers are calling for a boost in pay by 10% as the unions representing those first responders say Alexandria is losing talent to other departments.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

As a result, law enforcement members in the city are worried they won’t be able to offer the same level of service to the community.

Officer Benjamin Saks, President of IUPA Local 5, says morale is at a very low point and more first responders are likely to leave.

"It’s disheartening for us as police officers to know that we go out there every day and put our lives on the line and the city basically turns their back on us when we are desperately needing pay to keep people here," said Saks.

READ MORE: Would-be robber calls 911 after victim shot at him at Spotsylvania County ATM

Firefighters, medics and police officers in Alexandria say the departments are having a tough time with recruitment and retention. This is also happening in Arlington and Fairfax County who are losing first responders.

The unions representing first responders in Alexandria claim they are not getting paid enough to serve their community and that’s what is turning people away. In the long run, impacting the taxpayers who will then be provided with fewer services and delayed response times to emergencies.

"The department is going get to the point where we’re not going to be able to offer the same level of service to the community with us losing this number of people and the only real way to fix that is to pay us fairly," said Saks.

READ MORE: Man charged with sexual battery inside Fairfax County store

The Alexandria police union says their salary ranks 19th out of the 20 jurisdictions in Northern Virginia. They also reveal over the past nine months, they have lost 30 officers and only 11 of them have been replaced.

For Fire & EMS, the union says their salary ranks 18th out of the 19 jurisdictions in Northern Virginia and at last check, they are down 70 firefighters. As a result, they are working lots of overtime.

Firefighter Matt DeBenedetto said he has already made a huge life adjustment to continue working in Alexandria.

READ MORE: 'My heart aches for you': Loudoun County superintendent apologizes to students in sex assault cases

"When I first moved here, I actually lived in Alexandria, but the housing in Alexandria is so expensive – I had to move to Fairfax to just afford a house so that was already one thing I’ve done to try to spread my dollar a little further and the next step would be to try to transfer to another jurisdiction," said DeBenedetto.

He adds there seems to be a revolving door at the Fire & EMS department with people coming and going and hopes he doesn’t have to be next.

"Just to know that I worked at Walmart [five years ago] and didn’t have to worry about whether or not I was going to come to my family every night and I made more money when I left there than when I do currently now, risking my life and the life of my family – quite frankly – coming home from the pandemic is ridiculous," said DeBenedetto.


The mayor, city manager and city council say they will have an unprecedented meeting next Tuesday where they will explore mid-year pay adjustments and a possible one-time bonus.