ALEXANDRIA, VA – A new one-minute video with “Santa Claus” is going viral on local social media which addresses Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks directly on the subject of raises for police and fire workers.
“I am coming to you live from the North Pole with a special request for a present that I was asked to help bring to the police and firefighters this year, but it’s the one thing that I can’t deliver on by myself,” says a man dressed as Santa in the video.
The Alexandria Committee of Police IUPA Local 5 and Alexandria International Association of Firefighters Local 2141, which represent more than 500 firefighters, police and medics in the City of Alexandria, recently released a join statement spotlighting the struggle to recruit and retain emergency personnel. They need more money, plain and simple, is the message from both unions.
“Alexandria’s starting salary ranks 19th out of the 20 Northern Virginia jurisdictions, and we’re seeing how that impacts recruitment and retention,” Marcus Downey, vice president of the Alexandria Committee of Police, said in the release.
Salaries for the Alexandria police rank 19th out of 20 jurisdictions, and the Alexandria firefighter pay ranks 18th out of 19.
In addition, workers in both departments are fleeing. Recent stats suggest the police have lost 30 officers, and the fire department has lost as more than 70.
Firefighter Matt DeBenedetto went on the record four days ago with FOX5, telling their reporter that he’s had to move to Fairfax to afford housing to keep working in Alexandria, and that he made more money five years ago at Walmart than he does now.
“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,” DeBenedetto shared with FOX5.
The new video (above) is ringing bells around town as Santa pleads with Jinks, “I know that the Alexandria police and firefighters are understaffed and underpaid, and this could be corrected with a raise, and I know you can figure out a way to get the job done, where it is a win-win for everybody.”
Good news may be ahead though, because on October 20, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said, “In response to competitive pressures and in recognition of the dedicated work of Alexandria’s public servants, Council will be considering a package of rare mid-year pay adjustments, including an across-the-board salary increase, bonuses and targeted increases for public safety.
Yes Alexandria, there may be a Santa Claus, after all.