Bloomington corporation counsel on city council’s police pay resolution: “This is in some ways the council taking over the bargaining process.”

The backdrop of a city council work session on Friday was news that another Bloomington police officer had unexpectedly left the department the day before, following on the heels of a resignation the previous week.

The focus of the work session was to consider a resolution calling for increased police pay, which the council might approve at a special meeting next Wednesday.

Weighing in at the work session against the council’s resolution was the city’s corporation counsel, Philippa Guthrie, who sees it as an intrusion into the collective bargaining process between the administration and the police union.

Guthrie said, “[The resolution] is in some ways the council taking over the bargaining process.” She added, “I’m not positive, but I believe that the $5,000 figure, or whatever else you’ve got in the resolution, would have come from the police union. So in effect, you are bargaining with the police union.”

The $5,000 figure is the amount specified in the resolution as an increase in pay for all sworn officers.

The resolution is sponsored by councilmembers Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg, and Ron Smith. [Updated on Sept. 8 at 5:32 p.m. In a joint statement released by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton and police chief Mike Diekhoff, they discouraged the idea of re-opening the collective bargaining process. However, Hamilton and Diekhoff supported the idea of increasing the recruitment and retention pool proposed in the 2022 budget from $250,000 to $500,000. The new amount would work out to roughly $5,000 per officer.  Link: Text of 2021-09-08 joint statement]

Continue reading “Bloomington corporation counsel on city council’s police pay resolution: “This is in some ways the council taking over the bargaining process.””

Budget notebook: Bloomington police salary data

Much of last Tuesday’s Bloomington city council hearing on the police department’s 2022 budget focused on pay for Bloomington’s sworn officers.

A key question councilmembers were keen to get answered: How does compensation for Bloomington’s police officers stack up against compensation in other Indiana cities?

At last Tuesday’s meeting, Fraternal Order Police Lodge 88 representatives told councilmembers that BPD compensation ranks 68th out of the state’s roughly 153 departments—still in the top half, but not by much.

That’s consistent with the 2021 data that the FOP Lodge 88 has since provided to The B Square. Continue reading “Budget notebook: Bloomington police salary data”

Bloomington city council critical on first night of 2022 budget hearings: police, parking, sidewalks

On Monday, the first night of departmental hearings on Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s proposed 2022 budget, several city councilmembers conveyed their dissatisfaction about one or more aspects of next year’s financial plan.

Those points of friction included police officer compensation, a parking cashout program for city employees, and alternative transportation funding.

Even though Tuesday is the night scheduled for public safety budgets, Hamilton fielded sharp questions on Monday from councilmembers Dave Rollo and Susan Sandberg about the adequacy of compensation for Bloomington police officers.

Rollo even floated the idea that the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the police union could be reopened to provide higher compensation. The current CBA, approved in late 2019, runs through 2022.

Rollo and Sandberg have concerns about recruitment and retention of police officers. Bloomington currently has 92 sworn officers, which is 13 fewer than the 105 that are authorized.

Rollo doesn’t see the $250,000 pool of retention and recruitment funds in the 2022 budget as adequate.

At one point during Monday’s meeting, Sandberg asked Hamilton, “Do you feel the same sense of urgency that some of us do from having talked to our officers that are currently stressed to a point that I think is almost bordering on a crisis?”

The topic of police staffing levels is certain to be a highlight of Tuesday’s budget hearing, when police chief Mike Diekhoff presents his department’s budget.

Unlike the individual departmental budget presentations, Hamilton’s overview of the budget on Monday was not subjected to an informal straw poll.

The dissatisfaction expressed by the council at Monday’s meeting was not confined to the mayor’s overview.

If the city council’s straw polls had any legal significance, only two of the six departmental budgets presented on Monday would have been approved. The tallies on the straw polls (yes-no-abstain) were: human resources (3–1–5); legal (8–0–1); information technology (4–0–5); council office (6–2–1); controller (4–4–1); and mayor’s office (5–0–4). Continue reading “Bloomington city council critical on first night of 2022 budget hearings: police, parking, sidewalks”

Concern about Bloomington’s police staffing levels in light of potential annexations: By the numbers

According to Bloomington’s fiscal plan in support of its proposed annexation of territory,  the police department would need to add between 24 and 31 sworn officers, at a cost of up to around $2.6 million a year.

The additional officers would be needed in order to provide service to 9,000 more acres of area, and about 14,000 more people, based on Bloomington’s annexation plans.

At Wednesday’s public hearing on the proposed annexations, the president of Bloomington’s police union spoke about his concerns.

Paul Post, who’s president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 88 and a senior police officer for BPD, asked the city council: “Will the city have enough police officers to provide basic police services for the new version of Bloomington?”

It’s an open question, according to Post, because BPD has not been able to maintain the number of officers authorized in the city’s current budget.

BPD has fewer sworn officers than its budgeted number, but is losing officers as fast as the department can replace them, based on Post’s description.

The immediate consequence of the officer shortage, according to Post, is that all three of BPD’s uniformed patrol shifts have had to lower their daily minimum staffing levels. BPD is working at or below minimum staffing, Post said.

That means there are fewer officers who are available to field increased calls for service like “weapons in progress,” according to Post.

The numbers in Bloomington’s online payroll system and calls for service dataset basically square up with Post’s remarks.

Continue reading “Concern about Bloomington’s police staffing levels in light of potential annexations: By the numbers”

Bloomington mayor: Proposed 2021 budget will reduce sworn police from 105 to 100

During a panel discussion with other city officials, live streamed Thursday afternoon on Facebook, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton put numbers to an idea he mentioned in a speech two weeks ago.

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The 2021 budget proposal, which the mayor will eventually present to the city council in mid-to-late August, would reduce the number of sworn officer positions with the Bloomington police department (BPD) from 105 to 100.

The budget is scheduled for adoption in October.

The idea is to re-allocate the money for five sworn officers to at least five new non-sworn positions—a mix of social workers and neighborhood resource specialists, Hamilton said.

The move comes in the context of calls nationwide and locally to “defund the police.” Continue reading “Bloomington mayor: Proposed 2021 budget will reduce sworn police from 105 to 100”

Union head on police contract OK’d by city council: “I would be remiss if I told you the members were happy about it.”

Bloomington police officers now have a contract with the city for the next three years, through the end of 2022. The four-year deal, approved by the city council on Wednesday night, stretches back to the beginning of 2019, when the current contract expired.

Officers have been working this year under an “evergreen” clause of the old contract.

The 2-percent raise for this year was not applied retroactively, though it feeds into the schedule of raises each year for the next three years, which range from 2.65 to 2.9 percent.

Instead of applying the raise retroactively, which according to city staff would have been administratively too complex, officers received a $1,000 bonus. The bonus is about $60 less than 2 percent of the base salary for an officer, which was $52,916 in 2018.

Paul Post, who’s president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Don Owens Memorial Lodge 88, told the city council that the main point of contention—about which the union members were not happy—was a move away from seniority as the sole factor in determining shift assignments.

The council approved the contract and the salary ordinance as separate items. The votes were unanimous. Continue reading “Union head on police contract OK’d by city council: “I would be remiss if I told you the members were happy about it.””

New four-year Bloomington police contract could get one-step approval by city council next week

Negotiations between Bloomington and its police union, which have lasted the better part of two years, concluded in mid-November with ratification by the union of a new four-year contract.

The contract runs through 2022. The agreement and its corresponding salary ordinance appear on the city council’s meeting agenda next week for Wednesday, Dec. 4. The new agreement includes raises each year between 2 and 2.9 percent. Continue reading “New four-year Bloomington police contract could get one-step approval by city council next week”

Police union votes to accept Bloomington offer, city council consideration not yet scheduled

Bloomington police officers have voted, albeit reluctantly, to accept the city’s most recent contract offer, according to the president of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Paul Post.

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A close-up of  a BPD officer’s uniform at the Nov. 14, 2019 meeting of the Bloomington city council.  Under city code, the  police chief, or their designee, is the sergeant of arms at the city council, so an officer is always assigned to meetings. (Dave Askins/Beacon) 

Police officers have been working during 2019 under an “evergreen” clause of their contract, which expired at the end of 2018.

Post told The Beacon that the voting by the union membership was concluded. An official acceptance of the city’s proposal was sent on Thursday, Post said.

The latest city offer was conveyed at an Oct. 24 meeting. According to Post, both the mediator and the union’s legal counsel had recommended that the union membership vote yes.

Without an agreement before the end of the year, Bloomington police officers would start 2020 without a contract. Post said that union members did not want to lose the protections of a contract. Continue reading “Police union votes to accept Bloomington offer, city council consideration not yet scheduled”

Bloomington police union gets latest contract proposal from city

One piece of unfinished business from Oct. 10, when the Bloomington city council approved the rest of the 2020 budget  was the salary ordinance for police officers and firefighters.

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An officer from Bloomington Police department is assigned for duty at city council meetings. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

That final piece of business could be finished by the end of the year, after a meeting on Oct. 24, between city officials and the police union.  The city presented the union with its latest proposal for a contract, president of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Paul Post told The Beacon.

In late September, union officers told the city council at regular meeting that since mid-2018, the two sides had exchanged eight proposals, each with a counterproposal, for a total of 16 proposals. The most recent meeting would make nine rounds for a total of 18 proposals exchanged.

The city’s most recent proposal could lead to ratification by the union, and the approval  of the salary ordinance for public safety workers by the end of the year. The contract for the firefighters is not an open question, but the salary ordinance lumps police officers and firefighters into the same piece of legislation. Continue reading “Bloomington police union gets latest contract proposal from city”