‘Contentious' contract talks for Boynton Beach police officers

Police union spars with city commissioners Tuesday

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - From protesting police officers to passionate pleas at the podium at the Boynton Beach City Commission meeting Tuesday, it was a busy night in Boynton Beach.

“My members are frustrated. This ain’t no joke,” said John Kazanjian, union representative for the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association. Kazanjian contends that Boynton Beach City Manager Lori LaVerriere brokered a tentative contract with him - and then took it back. “I don’t like to be lied to,” he told commissioners on Tuesday. “I take the manager’s word.”

After speaking at the meeting, Kazanjian received a standing ovation from officers, who then walked out of the commission chambers as LaVerriere responded.

“For me to make promises or to negotiate or agreed to this or that; it’s against the law,” said LaVerriere. “I have no authority to do that. It didn’t happen.” LaVerriere said she would not resign because she had done nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, the union introduced a new element to this battle, recommending that the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office absorb the duties of the Boynton Beach Police Department altogether.

Police Chief Jeffrey Katz said he did not see that prospect coming. “It’s concerning to me, quite honestly, that the police union is pushing for the sheriff’s office because we don’t have a contract ratified,” said Katz.

The mayor and commissioners offered their support for both LaVerriere and for Katz and reiterated their hopes to meet the police union representatives at the bargaining table to reach a deal.