City and police union compromise

The New Haven Board of Alderman voted unanimously to approve a three-year contract with the city’s police union Monday night.

The approval comes after more than a year and a half of bargaining between the city and the union. The new contract will not take away significant benefits from officers currently on duty. But salaries, pensions and health care will be worse off for incoming officers, according to Ward 23 Alderman Yusuf I. Shah, who presented the motion to the Board for a vote.

“For the old, it will mostly be the same,” Shah said in an interview following the meeting. “But there will be dramatic changes for the new.”

All New Haven police officers will have a wage freeze in the first year but will see an increase in salary in the second and third years. While Shah reminded the Board that the contract will only last three years, he said it could serve as an “template for contracts to come.”

The News reported on Oct. 9 that the new contract will require all officers to complete 20 years of service before they are eligible to retire, which, as of last night, is an official requirement.

The police union voted 276–45 in favor of the proposed contract on Sept. 30. The previous contract expired in June 2008, and the new contract will start retroactively from that date and will end in June 2011.

According to Shah, the new contract will also include a “Bad Boy Clause,” which allows the city to retract its portion of an officer’s pension if the officer is convicted of misconduct while on duty.

During an interview with the News after the Board meeting, Ward 5 Alderman Jorge Perez, who said he strongly supports the “Bad Boy Clause,” said it is unfair for convicted police officers to collect pensions from the city while incarcerated.

“The city will have the ability to take back the pension it has put in only if you are convicted,” Perez said. “Convicted, see, not accused.”

Perez said that last year several police officers were arrested on corruption charges, yet they still receive a portion of their pension from the city. He said he hopes this new measure will discourage police officers from taking bribes or engaging in other criminal activities, referencing the scandal that rocked the department in 2007 and 2008.

In April 2008, Billy White, the head of the New Haven police department’s narcotics enforcement unit, was sentenced to 38 months in prison on corruption charges. According to the New Haven Independent, White pled guilty to “one count of conspiracy” and “two counts of theft of government funds.” He had taken $15,105 in government money during a FBI-planted sting operations in 2007. According to WTNH-TV, two more New Haven narcotics officers were arrested during this federal investigation.

During Monday’s meeting, the Board of Alderman also unanimously approved a $173,475 grant for the New Haven Police Department from the Connecticut Department of Transportation to conduct field sobriety checks and DUI patrols in 2009-’10.

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