October 22, 2014

Medina
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Medina concedes to union over police officers’ shift schedules

MEDINA — The city Police Department’s officers and sergeants have won the collective bargaining battle to keep the 10-hour, four-day work schedule for new officers.

The city wanted newly hired officers to work eight hours a day, five days a week.

Mayor Dennis Hanwell has said the shift-change proposal would save the city money and provide better police coverage.

But the mayor said Tuesday that dropping the proposal avoids mandatory arbitration that would cost the city about $5,000.

The city has been in negotiations with the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the union representing the officers and sergeants, for six months.

The tentative agreement announced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting calls for 2 percent annual raises for three years for the department’s 26 police officers.

A patrol officer with at least six years of service earns a base salary of $60,445 a year.

That increases to $61,654 retroactive to Jan. 1.

The department’s eight sergeants, who earn 14 percent more than the patrol officers, also will see 2 percent annual raises in each of the three years.

Police did agree to pay more for health insurance. The new contract will raise the co-pay for each officer and sergeant from 8 percent to 12 percent.

Hanwell said eventually all city employees would adopt the new co-pay, which will save the city $100,000 a year in health insurance premiums paid for city employee medical benefits.

Police Chief Patrick Berarducci said, “I think we reached a fair agreement. It just shows what happens when two sides work together on something.”

The city still needs to reach agreements with emergency dispatchers and other city workers represented by the Teamsters.

The Teamsters’ contract is in effect until 2015.

In other action Tuesday:

• Council’s Finance Committee approved more than $250,000 in new and improved systems and equipment for the Police Department.

The committee allocated $10,000 for night vision equipment.

Sgt. Scott Marcum said the night vision equipment would aid in tracking fleeing suspects and help make up for the loss of the department’s K-9 units, which were discontinued in 2010.

• The committee authorized the department to order three 2014 Ford Explorer Police Interceptors, which cost more than $33,000 each.

The department has 19 vehicles in its fleet and will be retiring four in the near future.

Three of the cruisers have mechanical issues while one was totaled in flash flooding earlier this month.

• The committee approved spending $44,000 for new software for dispatchers answering 911 calls.

Hanwell said the new program prompts dispatchers with questions to ask and provides drop-down menus that categorize each call with the specific situation. The program then places the call into different levels of emergency.

Hanwell said the program already is in use by city emergency medical services.

“The average time from the answered call to the dispatch of services is about one minute,” he said.

At-large Councilman Paul Rose said, “This is a true benefit to the entire community.”

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @adavisreports.