Conservation officers still left in the lurch by the Indiana Senate.

conservation officers
Photo: Indiana Department of Natural Resources

In spite of calls for fairness and equal treatment, the Indiana Senate has again utterly ignored the concerns of Indiana’s Conservation Officers, Excise Police and State Gaming Agents by passing a draft budget that only gives those officers half the pay raise being offered to the Indiana State Police.

This all stems from the ongoing fight over House Bill 1001, Indiana’s two-year budget. To make a long, messy story short, the bill offers Indiana State Police (ISP) a very nice raise because they are underpaid and are having a tough time attracting new recruits or keeping experienced troopers.

ISP is in a bad spot; but what’s worse is the fact that all other state-level law enforcement agencies are being told they’re only worthy of half that pay raise because their respective agency heads didn’t raise the specter of trouble during budget hearings.

After a great public outcry over the house version, it was amended to give all the officers the same pay and benefits.

The bill then went into the senate where, surprisingly, everyone was offered an even better raise but the troopers were again given twice that being proposed for the other officers. It would appear to be a situation where lawmakers are throwing money at the controversy under the idea that no one will dare complain when they’re getting a nice raise, even if it is unfairly applied across the agencies.

If you trust nothing else I say, believe this: conservation officers are anything but mollified. “Furious” might be too weak of a word to use judging by the emails, text messages and personal contacts we’ve had recently with Indiana’s men and women in green.

The job of Indiana State Police troopers is certainly different than that of an Indiana Conservation Officer, Excise Officer or Gaming Agent but they all uphold the same laws, work for the same governor, face the same dangers and, to our mind, should make the same amount of money.

Please contact your state senators- quickly- and ask that they amend HB1001 so that all of Indiana’s state-level police officers make equal pay for the equally complex, dangerous and ultimately unappreciated jobs they do.

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Brent Wheat
A well-known and award-winning writer/photographer/radio & television talent/speaker/web-designer/media spokesperson/shooting instructor/elected official/retired police officer/bourbon connoisseur/cigar aficionado/backpacker/hunter/fisherman/gardener/preparedness guru/musician/and jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none, Brent Wheat is the editor and publisher of WildIndiana.com

8 COMMENTS

  1. The biggest issue is that ICO’s are at risk of losing control of their health insurance. As the bill stands the state will take over our insurance and add a hefty hefty price byweekly and greatly reduce the amount coverage. Many officer will not be able to afford the new insurance even with a pay large raise. Ultimately I believe Indiana unfortunately will lose several highly trained and valuable ICO’s if this passes. I hope our sportsman contact our legislators and let them know how important our ICO’s are.

  2. Thank you for continuing to publish these stories. If you need information on our insurance issue, which is a really serious problem, please get in touch with me and I will send you what I have. Thank you again. — Carrie Allen -drugfreecrawford@aol.com

  3. Sen Luke Kenley is behind the pay differential that favors ISP – try contacting him to express your displeasure while you’re at it: Senator.Kenley@iga.in.gov There is wording in the bill for yet another study of ICO/Excise/Gaming pay. It’s an empty promise that has no required effect on the 2019 budget process.

    Note that ISP is also mentioned in the loss of the agency-specific insurance. The difference? They have their own insurance, while ICO/Excise/Gaming share their insurance policy. Any chance ISP has their agency removed at the last minute? The insurance issue includes wording that the Governor has to approve taking away the agencies’ insurance and moving them into the higher cost policies. Even if it remains in the budget bill, he can override the move. He has email too: http://www.in.gov/gov/2752.htm

  4. This is especially unfair and underhanded concerning retired Conservation Officers. The insurance rate increases that would result would be a clear message to the officers who spent the majority of their lives protecting the citizens of Indiana that there service was not respected. This would be a large financial burden

  5. “Face the same dangers” really? Over the last 22 years I’ve been to many funerals for line of duty deaths for state law enforcement officers. Guys shot to death, run over by semi trucks, killed in crashes, etc. Last I checked all but one were wearing blue, and none were gaming or IS Excise. Probably need to see what other states pay their respective CO, Excise, and gaming officers before getting all bent out of shape. Just because everyone plays on the same team does not mean pay should be equal.

    • @Just Saying – Yes, really. Justifying salary levels one agency over another by line of duty deaths is not only inappropriate, is borders on being some type of morbid bragging point. If that’s the measure of pay, then Indpls officers need to be paid considerably more than troopers, as they have had several more officers killed on duty than ISP. https://www.odmp.org/search/browse/IN

      The job is just as dangerous for the one-man department town marshal who stops the car after midnight as it is for any trooper. They’re both doing similar jobs, right? So if the “danger factor” is your yardstick, troopers should be paid the same as any small town officer. Does that really help make your case?

  6. Not only do they face the same dangers but they are able to do it skillfully enough that they manage not to get killed. I know officers from both ICO and excise that have been shot at or assaulted. Pretty dangerous if you ask me. You obviously know little about their jobs. Bottom line, officers from ICO or excise could get in a stripe tomorrow and do the job of a trooper. The same could not be said for a trooper being an ICO or excise officer. ISP also couldn’t handle gaming laws. They gave the boats up years ago.

    Troopers do great work and deserve a big raise. But officers from ICO, excise and gaming also deserve the same raise. Instead of putting down others, officers from all agencies should band together and fight for causes that benefit all.

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