The Portland Police Association (PPA) is negotiating with the City Council to add retention bonuses and increased pay to a tentative four-year contract.
The new contract is a result of recruiting and retention issues in the city’s police bureau, as well as increasing violence in the city and a lack of police accountability measures.
Negotiations will likely result in a 13% to 20% pay increase across the board, along with retention bonuses and other pay increases for completing crisis intervention training or obtaining higher education degrees.
The contract specifies that police bureau members will receive a crisis intervention training premium of 2%, in addition to retention bonuses of $5,000 after ratification of the contract. Personnel will receive another $2,000 retention bonus in 2024. Non-sworn public safety specialists will receive a $3,000 retention bonus following ratification.
In addition to matters of salary, the contract will expand the Portland Street Response program, which dispatches mental health workers and paramedics to crisis calls.
Absent from the contract is a body-worn camera policy. The PPA and City Council are still at odds on whether police should be able to review body cam footage before writing reports.
The contract does, however, contain a new guide for police discipline called the “corrective action” guide, which features education-based remedies for policy violations and categories of offenses.
After approval from the City Council and a majority of members of the PPA, the contract will be valid from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2025.
According to a City Council ordinance, the contract will total around $56.4 million over four years, with $15 million set aside for wage bumps for crisis intervention training, higher education degrees and intermediate or advanced police state certifications.
The city’s lead negotiator, Steven Schuback, said the contract was appropriate for the current labormarket and the bureau’s current struggle to retain officers.
“We don’t want to be losing them to smaller agencies in the metro area or national agencies,” he said. “We need to maintain that workforce.”
The contract also would stipulate ongoing cost-of-living adjustments of between 1% and 5% percent for all sworn personnel over the course of two years.
Of note, the contract specifies that retired officers may be rehired for one year, with a one-year renewal option at the discretion of the police chief. Rehired officers are also due a $5,000 recruitment bonus.
Mayor Ted Wheeler spoke on the contract.
“It is important to me that we are able to attract and keep quality police officers and that we have a discipline guide that ensures our officers are held accountable for their actions,” he said in a statement. “We also agreed on an approach to develop and expand Portland Street Response in a way that allows for an integrated and appropriate public safety response, including responding to 9-1-1 calls for people experiencing mental health crisis.”
Sergeant Aaron Schmautz, president of the PPA, said the union’s main goal was to address the bureau’s staffing shortage while ensuring the accountability of officers.
“We want to attract the best, pay and train our officers well, and provide ongoing opportunities by investing in our officers for the duration of their careers,” Schmautz said in a statement. “We are committed to being a partner in problem-solving for the public safety needs of everyone in our City.”
The union has sent ballots to its members, and will count the votes on February 15.