San Antonio Police Officers Association and City Contract Negotiations Wrap-Up

The more things change...the more they stay the same in the imminent collective bargaining agreement between the San Antonio Police Officers Association and the City. We're currently reviewing the final agreement forwarded to us by both the SAPOA and the City. The previous contract expired last October, but its 10-year evergreen clause was put into effect as the City and SAPOA negotiated over sticky wickets like health benefits and complaint procedures. Mike Helle, president of SAPOA said members of his association were voting on the contract as we spoke on the phone this afternoon. When asked if his members would approve the final draft of the contract, posted to the SAPOA members-only website on April 27, he replied "most definitely." SAPOA votes are to be tallied Wednesday. If approved, the contract goes before City Council the following day during their A Session meeting. The projected cost of the five-year contract (it ends on September 30, 2014, and includes a start date of last Oct. 1) is $62.9 million, or over $12 million per year.

Here's the major changes: It appears the position of "Commander" (it was a position between Captain and Deputy Chief) has been eliminated, and an extra Deputy Chief position added. An extra shift from 5:00 p.m. - 3:00 a.m. has been added to complement outgoing B-shifts (1:30 - 9:30 p.m.) and incoming C-shifts (10:30-6:30 a.m.). The new D-shift will allocate 226 positions.

Perhaps due to the lengthy contract renegotiation process, officers received no across-the-board wage increases in 2009, but the contract does provide a 2% increase this coming October, with 3% increases each additional year the contract covers, unless the Firefighters Association negotiates for a pay raise of greater than 2.2%, which the SAPOA would agree to as well. That's consistent with wage increases under the previous contract. To the envy of teens everywhere a departmental clothing allowance is set to rise exponentially over the next four years. Under the old contract there was a $480 annual clothing allowance; this year it's set for $720, and effective October 1, 2013, it will be $1,440.00. Maybe they know something we don't about the textile industry. Vacation time is slightly sweeter than in the past, amounting to one extra day vacay for officers with more than one year of service. Hiring guidelines for police cadets are encapsulated in the new contract, whereas there was not mention of them in the previous version. And we can all breathe a little easier now, the new contract institutionalizes an agreed to zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use while on duty and/or operating a police vehicle. As for the health benefits, it appears that very few changes were made in the end. Office visits for serious mental health issues are treated now as for any other serious illness, whereas they were previously limited to 60 per year. The premium is still $0 with deductibles for individuals at $250 and $500 for families, both in-network rates.

Of note to followers of 2008's Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) report, which made several recommendations regarding both the complaint procedure against SAPD officers and the make-up of the Citizen Action Advisory Board in order to enhance community-police relations, is the new formation of the Board. There will now be seven appointees to the board, which hears citizen complaints against officers and recommends disciplinary action to the chief, from a pool of 14. That's an increase of four sitting members of a pool of eight under the previous contract. Moreover the so-called "veto" power the CAAB had over members is now at least contractually absent. The process for selecting CAAB members will now go through the City Manager's office, where it once was hashed out between the City Council and SAPOA. Previously, the contract guaranteed that SAPOA had the opportunity to remove half of the list's candidates before appointments were made. Now they can provide input on candidates but hold no official entitlement to strike candidates from the list. Also, when complainants go before this Board, they are now contractually allowed to bring in an "observer" for support. Next week, I'll delve deeper into what the contract and the department does and doesn't do to address SAPD's recent (or should we say 'ongoing'?) history with creeps, car wrecks, and fatal shootings.

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