The Springfield City Council approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the Springfield Police Officers’ Association that will last through 2024.
The union had ratified the agreement last week.
The new agreement increases officer pay above the raise they already received when City employees received a 3.5% pay increase in January 2021. Merit step increases that average 4 percent were given to all eligible SPOA members, and those at the top of their pay scales will receive pay raises at variable levels: Officers at 3 percent; Corporals at 2 percent; and Sergeants 1 percent.
“This contract was a collaborative effort between the City of Springfield and the Springfield Police Officers Association prioritized to address our recruitment and staffing shortage,” Andy Zinke, SPOA President, said in a statement. “Currently, we are understaffed and filling those positions is a priority for the safety of our city and our police officers. We look forward to ongoing engagement with the City Council and members of the community to find ways to better compensate officers with over 5 years of experience, because retaining professional officers is just as critical as hiring new ones. We are proud of this City and commit to protecting everyone to the best of our ability.”
The biggest increase will be in the starting pay of officers. Starting pay will be just over $46,000, up from just under $40,500. Recruits will also be paid $19.90 an hour while attending the police academy.
The Council also approved the SPD recruitment plan. The plan calls for a “retention pay” program that will give each new officer an opportunity to receive up to a $5,000 bonus after five years of service. It will be paid out in $1,000 installments on the anniversary of their hiring. An overall satisfactory performance evaluation is a requirement for the bonus.
“This is an issue affecting law enforcement agencies across the country, and requires a bold and a creative approach to recruit quality candidates,” Chief Williams said in a statement.
The requirements for applications are also going to be adjusted. The SPD had required 60 hours of college credit as a base requirement. However, due to the academic requirements of the police academy, several local universities have developed programs to give college credit for the training. Officers with 60 credit hours prior to the academy found it difficult to use those programs; as a result many interested candidates passed on the SPD.
The SPD will now require only 30 credit hours from an accredited college or university, although all recruits will be encouraged to seek an Associate’s Degree.
Also, military veterans who have served at least two years active duty and received an honorable discharge will continue to be able to use that in lieu of the educational requirement. However, the new plan extends the option to applications with four years of military service in the National Guard or Armed Forces Reserve.
“The new plan has been under development since the beginning of 2021 and I’m pleased with the result,” Chief Williams said in a statement. “Combined with the pay improvements made as part of the contract with the SPOA, and with the support of City Manager Jason Gage and the members of City Council, I look for an immediate increase in the pool of applicants for the January 2022 police academy class, as well as future recruit classes.”