NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Nashville Fraternal Order of Police is pushing for higher pay for its law enforcement. They say if something doesn’t change, law enforcement will continue leaving the job.

Nashville Fraternal Order of Police President James Smallwood painted a dire picture of law enforcement pay.

“If we don’t solve our pay issue soon, we are going to see more officers leave. And we are going to see a more severe increase in retention and recruitment issues,” he said.

Smallwood took his proposal to the Civil Service Commission. He’s requesting a 12% cost of living increase for Nashville law enforcement.

“Every year, we come to the table and have the same conversation: It’s too expensive. It’s too expensive,” Smallwood explained. “We can’t accept exceptional service from our employees at a discounted rate. It’s never going to solve the problem.”

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Smallwood said the police crisis is already here. The force is down 11% in the midst of a political climate that puts officers under the microscope.

“We can’t control how the people treat, legislators treat, councils treat their law enforcement officers,” he said. “But what we can control is making sure they are compensated in a competitive manner and that they feel appreciated by the people that employ them.”

Officer starting pay is $55,000. Smallwood said that simply doesn’t cut it in a city that is getting more and more expensive.

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“I think we have demonstrated our commitment, sacrifice and professionalism time and time again,” he added. “And all we are asking for is a fair and living wage in Nashville.”