City View Newsletter
Police Contract Settlement Good News for Seattle
Here’s a quick update on the proposed settlement reached between the city and the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild announced yesterday afternoon.
This settlement is good for our city because it raises the overall compensation package for our officers to a competitive level with surrounding jurisdictions. Our officers will now be the best paid in the state of Washington and they deserve that. It will help bolster new officer recruiting and stop the loss of experienced officers whoare leaving to take positions with nearby departments. We lost seven trained and experienced officers in the first quarter of this year to other police agencies and this contract will go a long way in stopping that.
This settlement is good for every citizen of Seattle because it strengthens civilian oversight of officer conduct and provides for a fair, consistent, and objective discipline process. The powers of the civilian police auditor have been strengthened by giving her the ability to order further investigation of cases, something many of us on the Council wanted. All 29 of the recommendations proposed by the Mayor’s police accountability panel in January will be fully implemented under this agreement. The Council’s OPA Review Board will be expanded to seven members from the current three and their role will be expanded to include much more proactive community outreach.
This settlement is good for every neighborhood because it will allow full implementation of the Neighborhood Policing Plan, which allows for officers to be assigned where they should be and when they should be based on a demand-for-service basis. Our officers will move to 10-hour shifts, and the number of shifts will increase from three to six. These shifts are staggered to reflect crime trends, including hour-of-day and day-of-week ebb and flow.
The contract covers four years—from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2010. Over this term, officer salaries will increase at least 25.6% on a compounded basis. Here are the per year percentage increases:
2007 8% increase retroactive to January 1, 2007 (The current contract expired December 31, 2006)
2008 4% increase retroactive to January 1, 2008
2009 5.5% increase
2010 cost of living, plus 3%
A 12-year veteran officer will see her salary increase from today’s $72,072 to $90,516 by the last year of the contract term.
Starting salaries for new officers will increase an immediate and additional 8% due to elimination of the first two steps in a seven-step salary scale. This means a new officer's compensation will increase 35.9% compounded over the life of the contract term. New officers hired today make $47,340. Those hired in 2010 will start at approximately $64,312.
The proposed package allows the city to end the squabbles that have occurred with some regularity over accountability and transparency of the disciplinary system. The Council will move quickly to amend various ordinances related to the accountability system to bring them in line with the terms of this proposed contract. If the membership of the police union approves the contract, then the Council will act on the contract and related ordinances, probably in late May or early June.
The most important factors in any police disciplinary system are the trust and confidence both citizens and officers have in the process, the transparency of the system, and the independence of investigators to pursue cases wherever they might lead. The changes we have negotiated in this agreement work together to enhance each of these factors.
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