City Council Approves New FOP Contract
The city has reached an agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police on a three-year contract approved by members through a vote that ended on Saturday, July 25, according to the city.
“This is the most progressive contract in a generation,” said Mayor Ginther in a statement announcing the new FOP contract. “Through good-faith collective bargaining since late last year, we crafted a contract that provides an incentive for longtime officers to retire, rewards officers committed to service, change and reform, and attracts new, more diverse candidates to join our efforts to reform policing in Columbus.”
The provisions include the granting of full authority to the newly formed Civilian Police Review Board and the Inspector General, a change in body camera policy, post-incident drug testing, restrictions on the use of personal leave in lieu of suspension and more.
The agreement also creates an officer retirement incentive program, which will allow up to 100 officers with 25 years of service or more to retire early. The incentive program was designed to allow senior officers who no longer wish to serve under the changes taking place to leave the division “without financial hardship.” Officials said the program will also increase opportunities for promotions through the division’s ranks.
The program will result in roughly $19.5 million in savings, according to the mayor. The net cost savings will be used to fund more and larger police classes to replace a shrinking police force, said officials.
“The retirement incentive program means we must — and I will — propose more funding for additional recruit classes and more recruits to make up for the ones who choose to retire,” Mayor Ginther said later during a press briefing. “If you support this, you have to support making sure we’re putting more officers on the street. Officers who are committed to change and reform.”
Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant also stressed that the city will need more officers as well as the support of city leaders.
The mayor said in exchange for the reforms and management rights the city was about to get back, negotiations required the city to provide higher raises.
The contract includes “market adjustments” that will result in a new police officer earning more than $100,000 after three years. The mayor said the wage increase could provide incentives for “highly motivated and talented” candidates from diverse communities to pursue a career in policing.
“I am pleased to have a contract that both emphasizes reform and rewards police officers for the difficult job they do,” said Chief Bryant in a statement. “We can now focus our attention on fighting crime in our city and building a police force that reflects the diversity of the people we serve.”
On Monday, City Council voted unanimously to approve the new contract, which is currently in effect through Dec. 8, 2023.
Residents — including Lena Tenney, an anti-racism educator contracted by the city — gave testimony against the new FOP contract, particularly regarding the wage increases, with Tenney describing their own experiences of police brutality as well as the brutality of others, including the deaths of Ma’Khia Bryant, Andre’ Hill and Julius Tate Jr.
Councilmembers said though the contract is not perfect, the alternative would be worse.
“To not support this contract would cost this city in ways that a dollar amount cannot quantify,” said Councilmember Emmanuel Remy during Monday’s City Council meeting.
He said the contract does not make gains with regards to the division’s absolute seniority rules, which he said “keeps a patrol officer on the streets for decades when his or her analytical mind may be best suited as an investigator.”
However, he said the city received nearly every commitment needed for the Civilian Review Board. He added that the division would be seen in new “welcoming” uniforms, men will be allowed facial hair, tattoos will no longer have to be covered and hijabs will also be allowed for Muslim women.
The contract’s main provisions, as highlighted by the city:
- Grants the Inspector General of the Division of Police the full authority to conduct independent investigations, and the power to compel evidence and testimony
- Grants the Civilian Police Review Board full authority to review complaints of police misconduct, initiate independent investigations and make recommendations for discipline
- Changes body-worn camera policy to ensure video and audio evidence is available, whether the body-worn camera is activated or not and allows the Director of Public Safety to order review of audio and video recordings up to 14 hours prior to a critical incident, limited only by camera capabilities/technology
- Allows for post-incident drug testing following any police-involved shooting or discharge of firearm
- Restricts the use of personal leave in lieu of suspension
- Extends the time suspensions are maintained in disciplinary file
- Enhances oversight of police recruit training by allowing the police chief to assign an officer – regardless of seniority – to oversee training for each recruit class
- Improves police training and ensures officer preparedness by extending the probationary period for recruits
View the contract agreement here.
This article has been updated since publishing to include resident testimony against the contract.