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RACINE — A tentative agreement, announced Friday between the Racine Police Association and the City of Racine, could give police a new contract for the first time in more than two years.

The deal, which includes a raise and benefits package for police officers, goes before the Racine Common Council’s Finance & Personnel Committee next Monday (March 13). That meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall, Room 303. From there, the agreement goes to the full Common Council for approval on Tuesday, March 21.

The Racine Police Department (RPD) currently has 158 sworn personnel. Officers have been working under an existing labor agreement that expired in January 2021.

The tentative agreement includes:

  • A 15% pay increase to be implemented over four years (retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021).
  • A $2,000 retention bonus
  • An additional paid holiday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) and 24 hours of vacation time.
  • 320 hours of paid parental leave.

The tentative agreement also gives union-represented police personnel, who are also City of Racine residents, an additional 3% in pay, plus eligibility for student loan repayment assistance and eligibility for housing downpayment assistance.

“I am thrilled that we have reached an agreement with the Racine Police Association after hard negotiations from both teams,” Racine Mayor Cory Mason said in a news release. “This contract recognizes the important and difficult work of our police officers and compensates them appropriately. I am eager to bring this agreement before the Common Council and urge their support. As we continue to face public safety challenges, this agreement demonstrates our commitment to working together to keep our city safe and healthy.”

If approved later this month, the new agreement would end a lengthy stalemate between the city and unions representing public safety personnel.

On Tuesday (March 7), the Racine Common Council approved a new contract with Racine Professional Firefighters Local 321, which represents 128 Racine Fire Department employees. Those employees had also been working under the terms of a contract that expired in early 2021. A tentative agreement between the City and Local 321 was announced on March 3.

Racine Police personnel numbers lacking

The two-plus years without a new contract have exacerbated an ongoing staffing shortage for the RPD. Of the 196 police personnel budgeted by the city, the current number of sworn officers is 158. However, RPD recently reported that 20 of those officers are not able to respond to calls for service because of training or light-duty assignments due to injury. RPD has also had a number of officers retire or leave for jobs with other law-enforcement agencies over the past several months.

In response to the tight staffing, RPD has reworked its service plan to guide its response priorities. Public safety and serious crimes – related to bodily injury or public safety – will continue to receive top priority. However, police are giving a lower priority to complaints such as loud music, barking dogs or parking issues.

RPD has had some success in hiring new officers. As of this month, eight officers are in field training in the RPD while four others are in the police academy.

To help aid the RPD with officer recruitment, the Common Council approved a $5,000 recruitment bonus at this past Tuesday’s council meeting.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...