SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 12, 2014

Scanlon: Police contract a win for the city

To the editor:

Now that I am out of office, I try not to comment on local news but last Friday’s editorial and Paul Leighton’s earlier article on the Beverly police patrolmen’s contract may benefit from further discussion.

The editorial writer is obviously not a fan of the recently settled contract with its “healthy day” provision, but a full understanding of what is a good contract involves getting into the details. Before discussing that issue, let me clarify what the Beverly Education Incentive Program is. It is neither new nor is it expanded. It is the continuation of the long-existing state law known as the Quinn Bill, designed to encourage the hiring of better-educated police officers. To repeat, it is not new, nor is it broadened, but in recent years, the state stepped away from its portion of Quinn Bill funding (the state was paying 50 percent, a sum of over $200,000 a year), leaving that to the cities and towns.

In accepting that increased obligation, Beverly negotiated hard with the union and obtained agreement on a 25 percent annual reduction in the 20-day per-year sick leave allowance that police officers have received for many decades. This five-day reduction in the allowance for every patrolman obviously represents a significant cost savings for the city of Beverly. In addition, the city successfully negotiated the elimination of an existing but unnecessary police position and further succeeded in reducing the number of officers who could on short notice on any given day take a day off by using personal or vacation time. This number was reduced from four to three, again a 25 percent reduction. This reduction in that longstanding benefit has an immediate positive impact on overtime cost because, obviously, there is a need to have appropriate coverage of police on duty at all times.

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