GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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April 2, 2013

Editorial: Police contracts, cooperation bode well for city

There may still be some questions remaining from negotiations that have yielded ratified agreements between City Hall negotiators and union leaders from Gloucester’s two police unions.

And the idea of essentially giving the full slate of patrolmen and superior officers built-in raises of 6 percent — 2 percent for each of the three years included of the pact — may rub some taxpayers the wrong way, especially those thousands who work in the private sector and may not have gotten any raises, if they still have jobs, in some time.

But the agreed-upon contracts include some important benefit give-backs by the unions. And even better, it’s good to hear both first-year chief Leonard Campanello – who’s not part of any union – and the union leaders both praise the cooperative nature of the talks that should also spill over to other contract talks as well. For these deals signal a commitment to truly do what’s best for the city and its residents, who of course have to foot the bill and, in increasing numbers are struggling to do so.

The twin police contracts should generate long-term city savings, according to the chief and Mayor Carolyn Kirk, through curbs in spending on salary bumps for higher education degrees through the so-called Quinn Bill, with that clause eliminated for officers hired after July 1 — at the start of the new contract and the dawn of the new fiscal year. The Quinn bill — code for the Police Career Incentive Pay Program — had been around since 1970 to compensate police officers for continuing their education in related subjects, and today raises base pay by 10 percent for an associate degree, 20 percent for a bachelor’s degree and 25 percent for a master’s degree. But the state had stopped paying its portion of the Quinn pay hikes in fiscal 2012, which ended last June 30, with cities and towns having to pick up the rest.

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