WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — After nine months of negotiations, police officers with the West Palm Beach Police Department have a new contract. With more money, there's also the hope of more police on the streets.
The commitment is three years, starting this October. All officers will receive a market adjustment in pay Oct. 1. They will also pick up an annual 5% increase on their work anniversary. For some, that means a 15-29% increase in pay.
It's a move that they say is needed to be more competitive in pay compared to other South Florida police departments. Union representative Adam Myers said the agreement will help with morale.
"Nice to be recognized for their work and being rewarded with a salary that's competitive with other officers in Palm Beach County," he said.
Overall, Mayor Keith James said the pandemic made the negotiations much more challenging.
"It was tough because of the uncertain nature and environment in which we were, but we made it through," he said.
Chief Frank Adderly said a low starting wage was a tough sell for recruitment. With two-dozen vacant positions in his department, the bump in pay helps.
"I think now we can take a more aggressive approach to our recruiting efforts," he said.
Adderly said among the challenges for the city are addressing the shootings in high-crime areas.
"I think when you see a group of young individuals that engage in gun violence the way they are here, I think it's a challenge for us as a police department," he said.
The new collective bargaining agreement also gives a boost in pay to civilian jobs like crime scene investigators, community service aides and latent print examiners.