NHPD, unions reach accord

After working for over a year without a contract, New Haven Police Department officers have reached a tentative agreement with the city.

Announced Thursday afternoon, the tentative agreement between the city and unionized NHPD officers represented by Local 530 includes changes in wages and benefits. The agreement will allow the NHPD to make progress in completing reforms recommended by outside auditors in 2007 after a corruption scandal in the department, NHPD spokesman Joe Avery said.

“This is an agreement that is fair to [city] residents and that meets the needs of Local 530 members,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said in a press release. “We spent significant time and energy negotiating with union leaders to achieve a document that we can all stand by in the best interest of our police officers.”

The contract provides for no wage increase in the first year and a 3 percent increase in each of the following two years.

In a press conference at the end of August, NHPD Chief James Lewis said some of the actions recommended by the Police Executive Research Forum, the outside group brought in to audit the NPHD, could not be completed without negotiations with the union. The previous contact expired July 2008, and the union has been in negotiations ever since.

Now that there is a tentative contract agreement, the union will begin to negotiate directly with Lewis about actions recommended in the PERF report, such as expansions in patrols and units’ resources.

“The union will now negotiate with him for these other items like the street crime unit,” Avery said.

The city will save money by increasing the out-of-pocket deductible on health care plans provided to officers hired after Oct. 1. New hires will also have a new hybrid pension plan in which the retiree’s defined benefits will not include overtime and extra duty contributions but will be limited to just the officer’s base pay.

Employee longevity payments and the allowance to be spent on uniforms were also reduced. All employees now must provide 20 years of service before becoming eligible for retiree health care and sick leave buyback benefits redeemable after retirement. The new contract raises the department’s maximum retirement age by two years, to 67.

In another change with the new contract, officers who engage in certain acts of misconduct on the job may lose their pension.

Representatives from Local 530 did not return a phone message left Thursday evening.

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