Vero Beach police officer fights for rank - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Vero Beach police officer fights for rank

VERO BEACH, FL (WFLX)  Officers and supporters protested Tuesday outside City Hall for people like Terrance Nelson. He has served his community as a Vero Beach police officer for 22 years. He was promoted to sergeant five years ago. Now, he faces a possible demotion.

Come October, Sergeant Nelson could be demoted to corporal, not because of any disciplinary actions, but because the city is trying to balance the budget. He says it's a pay cut of $7, 200 a year. Vero Beach city manager Jim O'Connor says police reorganization is a necessity.

"To get demoted for this reason is very disheartening. It's hurtful, and for a lot of our newer guys coming in, they don't see a chance for promotion," said Nelson. He pointed out one lieutenant who's served on the force for 28 years is on the list of possible demotions.

Vero Beach is looking at demoting three lieutenants to sergeants. Three sergeants would become corporals, and three corporals would work road patrol. The city says the savings would add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Nelson says the community needs to prioritize, when choosing where to make cuts.

"When you need help, who do you call?" asked Nelson. "In times of hurricanes, in times of natural disasters, emergencies?"

Nelson says if the city council votes for the reranking this summer, he'll evaluate if the demotion costs him more than he can afford to lose. He says he's a single father of two children, and he has to do what's best for his family.

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