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Louisville Mayor, Louisville police union agree on tentative contract for raises, reforms

If approved, it would raise starting salaries around $4,000 -- bringing the total to just under $50,000, and then to $51,000 the following year.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — LMPD officers could soon be bringing in higher wages, as the department tries to improve recruitment.

On Friday, Mayor Greg Fischer and the River City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.

If approved, it would raise starting salaries around $4,000 -- bringing the total to just under $50,000, and then to $51,000 the following year.

Here's the breakdown for both rank-and-file officers and mid-level command staff, per the Mayor's Office release:

  • In this fiscal year, starting officers will make just over $49,500. By next year, FY 2023, officers’ salaries will range from $51,000 to nearly $79,000 at career end.
  • Sergeants’ salaries will range from $78,700 to $93,500 in FY23.
  • Lieutenants’ salaries will be $98,000 to $123,100 in FY23.
  • The contract would guarantee raises for all union members every two years, so a recruit signing on today, for example, could expect to make nearly $65,000 two years from now under the proposal.

“From the outset, my team committed to ensuring that we have a pay scale that allows us to recruit and retain the most talented people possible, while also making reforms to further trust between the police and the community they serve,” Mayor Fischer said.

In a statement, the spokesperson for Louisville's FOP said they want to recruit and retain the most qualified candidates.

"We feel this tentative agreement could be another step in that process," Director Dave Mutchler said.

The proposed contract also includes police reforms. The proposed deal promises to keep a better record of officer wrongdoing, like in findings of bias, excessive force or sexual misconduct -- and increased discipline in those moments.

"The ability to suspend a police officer, without pay," Louisville Metro Council President David James said.

Here's the breakdown of reforms as written by the Mayor's Office, in its words "a collaborative effort by LMPD and its labor union to address community demands for greater accountability":

  • Enhancements to discipline, oversight, and record retention;
  • Mandatory critical-incident alcohol and drug testing;
  • Required training to Internal Affairs investigators;
  • Retaining past findings of bias, untruthfulness, excessive force, sexual misconduct and other criminal conduct as permanent parts of disciplinary records.
  • Recognition of the Inspector General and the Citizens Review and Accountability Board;
  • Opportunities to build community relations through volunteerism and engagement.

Nearly nine months into the year, and on pace for record homicide numbers, LMPD continues to call for more officers. Some believe the problem stems from struggles to hire, and keep, the best of them.

"We're losing officers to surrounding police departments because of poor pay," Councilman James said. "[It] should be at a very high standard."

From Councilman James' view: Better salaries are a start to higher quality performance.

For many living in Louisville though, it's not that simple. There are already critics of the tentative agreement.

"Louisville has failed at its communications and its productivity around public safety," said Chanelle Helm, one of the leading organizers for the BLM movement in Louisville. "I'm not sure what occupation even gives you more money when you fail."

Helm isn't buying into the reforms listed in the proposed contract. Like protesters have said in the past, Helm doesn't believe this is what the people want.

"There's no compromise when we're talking about safety. We're talking about defunding, so that we can fund places so that people don't have to hurt," Helm said.

As for Metro Council President James, he sees promise, but also work to do to fix overarching issues.

"Is it better than where they were, yes, but is it where we need to be to be competitive -- in my opinion, no," James said.

River City FOP's Mutchler said they can't comment further until they vote yes -- either for this proposal or a revised one down the line, if they vote no. The vote is expected on the week of Sept. 6.

If approved, the contract will then go to Metro Council for a vote. If it passes, it will lastly go back to the Mayor for final authorization.

The city and FOP began negotiations in January on two employment contracts: one for police officers and sergeants, which expired June 30; and another for lieutenants, which expired in June 2018.

There will be an opportunity for public comment before the Council vote, through the normal Council process. The proposal will be shared with the public when delivered to union members within the next few days.

In a statement, LMPD Chief Erika Shields said the city needs highly motivated officers, and the competitive salary in the contract helps achieve that.

“At the same time, it sets clear directives for meeting the community’s expectations for reform. Those too, will make us a stronger force," Chief Shields said.

Below is the full River City FOP statement: 

Our FOP contract committee worked relentlessly, during these negotiations, to help ensure the LMPD is a department that is able to recruit the most qualified candidates and retain our outstanding officers. We feel this tentative agreement could be another step in that process.

We now need to ensure that every RCFOP member fully understands what is included in this tentative agreement and then to have the members vote whether to accept and ratify the agreement or to decline.  If the members ratify the agreement, it will be sent to the Louisville Metro Council for approval. If the members do not ratify the agreement then we will head back to the negotiating table.

Until we have an agreement that is ratified by our members, we are unable to make any further comments about this or any tentative agreement.

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