The Bloomingtonian

Bloomington police ask for better wages, working conditions during city council meeting

Paul Post, of Don Owens Memorial Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 88, addresses the Bloomington City Council during public comments to ask for better wages, more hiring, and better retention for Bloomington police officers, Wednesday, September 4, 2019. The public workers in the Bloomington Police Department have been without a contract since December 2018. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
Bloomington City Council listen during public comments as members of the Don Owens Memorial Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 88 ask for better wages, more hiring, and better retention for Bloomington police officers, Wednesday, September 4, 2019. The public workers in the Bloomington Police Department have been without a contract since December 2018. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

By Jeremy Hogan

September 4, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana

Members of the Don Owens Memorial Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 88 spoke to the Bloomington City Council regarding wages, hiring, and retention of police officers in Bloomington during Wednesday, September 4th’s meeting in the council chambers.

The FOP has been negotiating a new contract with the city since July 2018, and have been without a contract since December 2018 when the last contract ended. The members of the FOP rejected the city’s last offer.

According to members of the FOP, it takes three shifts each day to police the city, and currently there are a minimum of 8 officers for the morning shift, 10 for the afternoon, and 9 for the night shift. The city currently has 95 officers, and is budgeted for 103, while the city actually needs 146 to have the average number of officers recommended. Currently there are 1.19 officers for each thousand residents in contrast with the state average being 1.69.

The shortage of officers leads to more over-time being paid to officers who have to work extra hours to fill the needs of the community. The city paid 695,000-dollars in overtime in 2017, 685,000 in 2018, and has so far paid 571,000 in 2019, and is projected to spend 785,000 by the end of the year.

Officers cited issues such as the shooting on Labor Day this week, and extra officers needed on weekends to secure the Farmers’ Market, among the reasons for overtime costs. Officers who don’t volunteer to work extra hours are often ordered to do so. When officers are working so many hours of overtime it leads to burnout, and officers leaving the department to work in other cities, or government agencies.

A full video of comments made during the meeting is below.

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