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Detroit police to get raises as department struggles to recruit, keep officers

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

Detroit police officers should get a pay bump starting in 2016.

City officials announced Monday that officers will get  a 4% raise January 1.

It’s part of a deal that will extend the city’s three police unions’ contracts through 2020. That contract was negotiated and approved in 2014, during the city’s bankruptcy.

Police Chief James Craig says a pay boost is crucial to attracting and retaining officers, something the department is struggling with right now.

“We can’t properly police this city without retaining those great officers,” said Craig. “As you’ve heard me say, we have some of best officers of any place in America.”

But it’s losing them, though city officials say attrition has at least stabilized since the bankruptcy.

The department has 221 vacant officer positions right now. It’s losing an average of 13 officers per month, and having trouble filling its academy classes.

The deal has additional incentives for increased educational attainment. It also boosts starting pay levels.

Union leaders applauded the $41 million effort.

“No mayor, no chief has ever come to us and said, 'We know your contract is closed, we want to give you more money, we understand that you’re underpaid,” said Charles Mahone, President of the Detroit Police Command Officers Association.

But all parties acknowledge this is just a “first step” toward the larger goal of attracting and retaining quality officers.

The proposed deal still needs approval from the ranks of the city’s three police unions, the Detroit City Council, and the city’s state-appointed Financial Review Commission.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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