SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 7, 2014

Our view: 'Healthy' contract for patrolmen needs a cure

(Continued)

The contracts also make managing a modern police force much more difficult.

Some of the members of the Beverly City Council, which must approve funding for the contract, seem to understand this.

“It’s unfortunate we took that approach,” Councilor at-large Jason Silva said of the “community impact” stipend. “I wholeheartedly support having a community impact unit. I think it’s a real important and effective way to encourage community policing. But this is a very expensive way to accomplish a goal when I would say there’s a much more affordable way to do it.”

New police Chief John LeLacheur, who stands to inherit the contract, told councilors the stipend will give him the flexibility to move officers around, adding “I think it’s important for us to get back in the community and get out into the neighborhoods.”

The chief is right to want community policing for Beverly. But what a shame that patrolmen must be cajoled into the neighborhood beats with a 2 percent pay hike.

At their worst, such union contracts handicap managers and breed distrust from taxpayers. The City Council will soon decide whether to fund the agreement, and some councilors have already asked pointed questions about the pact. We urge them to push for substantive changes, especially the elimination of the ridiculous healthy days.

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