LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After rejecting a new contract with a 9% pay hike, Louisville's officers ratified a new proposal over the holiday weekend that will guarantee them an even bigger payday.
If approved by Metro Council next month, the contract would give officers and sergeants a 9% raise for the current year, retroactive to July 1, and 6% in 2022-23.
The previous proposal they rejected included a 3% raise in 2022-23.
Other than that, the new contract is identical to the one police previously voted down.
It still contains reform provisions the River City Fraternal Order of Police and city negotiators first reached in September, including:
Changes to disciplinary procedures such as not allowing officers to view body camera footage before being interviewed by investigators;
Removing a 180-day time limit on concluding officer probes;
Retaining disciplinary records connected to use of force, sexual misconduct, bias, truthfulness and criminal activity; and
Drug and alcohol testing within 2 hours of a "critical incident."
But apparently, when the city sweetened the deal with a larger pay increase to make LMPD salaries more competitive with neighboring suburban police departments, it was enough to push the contract over the top.
An LMPD officer with 2 to 3 years of experience currently makes $57,803. Under the new contract, that would rise to $63,003 through June 2022 and to $66,788 in 2022-23.
An officer with 12 to 13 years of experience makes $63,065 but would make $68,744 this year and $72,862 next.
"It’s critical that Louisville has a police department that offers competitive compensation in order to retain and drive recruitment of the best and brightest officers, and to move forward with reforms that strengthen trust between officers and the community they serve," Mayor Gary Fischer said in a statement Monday.
Approximately 66% of officers and sergeants voted in favor of the new contract, compared with 71% who voted down the first proposal, according to FOP spokesman David Mutchler.
He said the FOP won't discuss the contract publicly until it's approved by the city.
But in a Twitter statement posted late Sunday, the FOP said the decision is "a step in the right direction" that will help the "critical manpower shortage" LMPD is facing.
In September, police ratified and Metro Council approved a separate LMPD contract for captains and lieutenants. That contract includes an 8.21% raise in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 9% this year and 3% in 2022-23.
Metro Councilman Anthony Piagentini, R-19th District, said the contract will be read into the record during this week's Metro Council meeting and will go to the labor committee next week before a final, full council vote in December.
"This is a pivotal step in getting back to full staffing with LMPD, which is a critical move in addressing violent crime in Louisville," he said. "Without properly paid officers and filling the incredible amount of vacancies, we can’t address this epidemic."
But the new contract earned the disdain of the board of directors of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which put out a statement saying LMPD officers should earn any raise they get by treating citizens with respect and following the law themselves.
"LMPD has shown us that community is not a priority," the statement said about the contract ratification. "Increases in pay don't always result in high-quality personnel. Training police is useless if accountability is not prioritized."
Councilmember Jecorey Arthur, D-4th District, said in a Twitter post Monday he will vote against the contract because LMPD needs to be held accountable through a fair and transparent contract.
Cara Tobe, a member of the 490 Project that has pushed for transparency and changes to the FOP contract, said the mayor's office doubled the raise without any concessions from officers — a negotiating failure.
Tobe said she would have settled for a small concession such as clarification of certain confusing clauses in the contract.
"The community got nothing in return for that," Tobe said. "There was no discussion on any of it, despite the fact that the community keeps asking for transparency in this process."
Kala Kachmar is an investigative reporter. Reach her at 502-582-4469; firstname.lastname@example.org or @NewsQuip on Twitter. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/subscribe.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville Metro police ratify FOP contract with bigger raises