CINCINNATI -- An upcoming proposal from Mayor John Cranley would set a deal with the local police union to guarantee pay raises for at least the next three years.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 69 President Sgt. Dan Hils announced Friday the mayor's proposal, which will go before council's Budget & Finance Committee Monday, and calls for a 5-percent annual pay and benefits increase for the next two years, and then a 4-percent increase the third year. The contract would also mean augmented city contributions to officers' health benefits and more flexibility for managing officers when it comes to granting changes in paid time off schedules.
"We're very, very excited about this," Hils told reporters Friday. "It's been a long, long time since we've gotten a significant raise."
Hils touted the contract's importance toward establishing the city's law enforcement agency as one of the state's most competitive.
"This will make us more competitive with some of the best-paid police departments in the state of Ohio, so we can keep some of the best law enforcement professionals right here in the city of Cincinnati," he said.
But the contract -- which would be initiated through a city ordinance -- still needs council's approval. Hils said the community's support will be crucial for ensuring the pay raise be approved.
"That's kind of the point of this press conference: Mayor Cranley is hoping to see that he gets the votes. I think with the show of community support those votes will be obtained."
During his address, Hils asked those who support the measure attend both Monday's budget meeting, as well as the full council meeting to follow that Wednesday afternoon, making sure to recognize council members Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman -- both known for their close relationships with the police union -- for championing the contract to their constituents.
"The two of them recognized and were willing to come out publicly and say that it is time now to show our police officers that it is time to be paid as professionals," Hils said.
Even with the raise, Hils confirmed Friday that Cincinnati's officers are still below the state average and that the union was originally hoping for a 6 percent increase the first year.
"We've really lagged behind," he said, balking at identifying any specific reason for that lag. "Whatever the reasons are, I think it's time to put the past in the past and to move forward."
Traditionally, union contracts are negotiated through a mediation process, but Hils said, in light of recent events involving officer-involved shootings, a wage dispute is not what the department needs right now, throwing the local chapter's support behind Cranley's proposal.
"Along with other citizens in the country, Mayor Cranley became very aware of what was happening," he said. "He realized this was not the time to be in a wage dispute."
Instead, Hils described the prospective contract as a "morale boost" for the rank and file.
"When you say you support somebody, that's a powerful thing. When you show that you support them, with giving them contribution, a higher wage, that says it all," he said.
Hils said he was confident Cranley would secure the votes needed to approve the contract, which will go before council's Budget & Finance Committee Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. for consideration.