By Andy Sheehan

RANKIN (KDKA) — As a part-time police officer in Rankin, C.L. Gunter makes a little more than $9 an hour — pretty much the standard wage in the cash-strapped towns of the Mon Valley.

“Nine, $10 an hour, putting my life on the line every day – ridiculous,” he said.

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The most glaring example of this inequity is Clairton Officer James Kuzak. He was shot three times in April in the line of duty while making $11 an hour.

While Kuzak struggles to regain use of his legs, he’s dedicated himself to bringing that pay up for his fellow officers.

“And it’s a fight we’ve been doing for a long time and it’s the only goal that we have,” he said.

But now that the KDKA Investigators called attention to the issue, those officers may be getting some relief.

State Sen. James Brewster has introduced a bill to establish a minimum wage of $15 an hour for all police officers in the state.

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Increased fines on moving violations would make up the difference for financially-challenged towns.

“I’ve had some discussions with other senators,” Brewster said. “I think they understand what we’re trying to do and I think it will eventually pass.”

It’s good news for officers like C.L. Günter.

“Now $15 – I could work with that,” he said.

So now there is hope for police officers in the Mon Valley that they can continue to serve the public and get a living wage for doing it.

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