Proposed police contract would require new officers to live in Syracuse, breaking down the tentative deal

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – New officers who graduate from the Syracuse Police Academy could soon be required to live in the city for the first five years of employment.

A tentative contract was signed Tuesday by Mayor Ben Walsh and Syracuse Police Benevolent Association President Jeff Piedmonte.

Union members are in the process of voting on the proposal but Chief Administrative Officer Frank Caliva said the hope is to have the deal approved by the end of the year.

When asked if the new residency requirement could hurt recruitment efforts Caliva said, “it was certainly part of the discussion but I think the answer is no emphatically.”

Point 8 of a 16-point proposal, police grads would be required to move to the city within six months of graduation.

The proposal would run retroactively from January 1, 2018, to January 1, 2022. The draft starts with an annual pay raise for officers and includes pay incentives for higher education, language proficiency, military service, and department longevity.

  • Associate’s Degree: 1.5%
  • Military Veteran: 2%
  • Bachelor’s Degree: 3%
  • Graduate Degree: 3.5%
  • Language Fluency: 3.5%

Years of Service:

  • 6 years: $500
  • 11 years: $1,000
  • 16 years: $2,000
  • 21 years: $10,000

Sergeants, Lieutenants, and Captains would also get a pay boost.

The tentative plan would cost the city $12-million and would be paid out of the general fund, said Caliva. The money would be paid out over the course of 4.5 years.

“Most of the dollars require some significant value return to the taxpayers and the police force. There are no dollars we feel are unattached to a significant benefit so we’re feeling pretty comfortable,” said Caliva.

He added the proposal also helps achieve Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner’s goal of making the Syracuse Police Department one of the best-paid police forces in Central New York.

In a statement, Chief Buckner called the tentative deal a “win-win.”

“We’ll have more officers on patrol who live in the City and at the same time we will be better able to develop leaders from within the Department and encourage experienced officers to stay with the force.”

Chief Kenton Buckner, Syracuse Police Department

At a Common Council Study Session on Wednesday, police union president Jeff Piedmonte chose to withhold comment until all union members have voted on the deal, which is expected next week.

While arduous at times, Caliva said negotiations involved give and take on both sides and was confident the package presented would serve the police force and the taxpayers equally.

One of the last pieces of the draft is a 10-hour shift pilot program that would take effect when the department reaches 450 officers. Officers currently operate on an 8-hour schedule. The pilot program would run for a year and then be reviewed by the city to determine its effectiveness.

Caliva said the change could lead to overtime savings and help officers more readily address community needs.

Further proposal discussion is expected during the first week of December. That’s when the Syracuse Common Council will also weigh in.

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