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March 5, 2014

Council skeptical of police raises

BEVERLY — City councilors are raising questions about a new contract that would give police patrol officers a retroactive 6 percent raise.

The contract grants police 1.5 percent raises for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, a 1 percent raise for 2014 and a 2 percent stipend for “community impact officers.”

Councilor Jim Latter said he is troubled that the pay raises are higher than those received by other city unions whose contracts have already been settled. He said the city has traditionally tried to deal “equitably” with all of the unions.

“I’m concerned that all of a sudden, one bargaining unit by holding out to the end is getting a larger raise than the other units got,” Latter said at Monday night’s City Council meeting. “I don’t think that’s fair.”

Representatives of the Beverly Police Benevolent Association, the patrol officers union, could not be reached for comment.

Police patrolmen have been working without a new contract for almost three years. The agreement was signed by former Mayor Bill Scanlon in December, but its funding must be approved by the City Council. It is retroactive to 2011 and expires in June of this year.

Mayor Mike Cahill has asked the council to transfer $269,018 to cover the cost of the retroactive raises. Cahill, who took office in January, said he is obligated to support the contract because it was signed by the former mayor.

After asking several questions, councilors sent the request to their finance and property committee for further discussion.

Many of the questions concerned the 2 percent community impact stipend. Police Chief John LeLacheur said the stipend is in exchange for patrol officers agreeing to be switched off their regular shift to perform community policing duties, such as traffic enforcement, or to train reserve officers.

Councilor Jason Silva said it would be less expensive to fill those needs by creating a community policing unit with officers who perform those tasks as part of their regular duties.

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