Detroit police officers extend contract, get raises

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Detroit Police Officers Association Mike Diaz said the raises in the contract extension are a “huge step in the right direction.”

Detroit — Detroit police officers will receive an immediate 2 percent raise after their union agreed to a two-year contract extension, city officials said Thursday.

Police officers will receive a total of a 7 percent base-wage increase over the next three years and have four paid holidays, which were lost in the 2013 bankruptcy, restored.

"We're still not up to parity with the surrounding communities," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. "But the city of Detroit is doing better financially and we're going to keep improving as we go along."

Officials said starting wage for officers increases to $39,545.

Duggan said he hopes raises will keep Detroit police officers from leaving for other departments and keep officers on the streets.

The mayor made the remarks during a news conference Thursday at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center downtown. He was joined by Police Chief James Craig, union President Mark Diaz and City Council members.

"This is a great next step," Craig said. "I know the mayor is committed and willing to open this thing up again if the city's revenues continue to increase."

Craig has headed the department, which had been under federal oversight from 2003 to March 2016, since July 1, 2013. He has served as deputy mayor since 2016.

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Diaz welcomed the wage increases but said there still was more work needed to get the pay of Detroit's police officers on the same level as other communities.

"This is a huge step in the right direction," he said. "It is not the final solution. We have a long way to go. Fortunately, we have a mayor who recognizes the need for better pay for the police officers in the city of Detroit."

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Duggan said the Detroit Police Officer Association, which represents more than 1,600 Detroit police officers, ratified the contract extension Wednesday night.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig his officers are the hardest working men and women in law enforcement in the country.

He said the extension will be sent to the City Council for its approval.

If approved, the raises will come from the city's general fund and add about $35.9 million in costs in the 2019-22 fiscal years. Officials said the costs would be offset by reduced debt service and reduced costs from the city's risk management fund. 

Duggan said the union representing the Police Department's sergeants, lieutenants and command officers approved a similar agreement earlier this year.

"This means all police officers in the city of Detroit are now under contract until 2022," he said.

Councilwoman Janeé Ayers said the contract extension made Thursday an exciting day.

"It's already been said that the men and women of the Detroit Police Department are phenomenal, and we all know that," she said. "They deserve everything they have received and 10,000-times more than that. We're not there yet, but we're going in the right direction."

Councilman Gabe Leland echoed her comments.

"This is a great day of collaboration for us to offer raises to those who need it," he said. "The men and women of the Police Department work hard everyday for the people of Detroit and they deserve better wages."

The city reopened the contract to provide police officers raises, just as it did in December 2015, when officers received a 7 percent wage increase and starting pay was raised from $31,701 to $36,000, according to city officials.

Duggan said if the city's finances continue to improve, he hopes it will be able to reopen the contract to provide more raises in the future. 

As part of the city's financial restructuring during its Chapter 9 bankruptcy, police officers lost benefits such as 40 hours of sick time, holiday pay and longevity pay. Longevity pay was about 1 percent of senior officers' base pay, according to union officials.

"I know our officers chose this career because they love the job," Duggan said. "But they deserve to get paid fairly, and they got hit very hard during Detroit's economic decline and even harder during the bankruptcy."

Other provisions of the contract extension include:

  • Patrol officers with 15 years of experience will get an additional 2.5 percent increase.
  • Patrol officers with five years of experience also will get an additional 2.5 percent increase.
  • A 2.5 percent wage increase occurs in 2020 and in 2021
  • Officers with 15-plus years on the force and who respond to 911 calls every day will be offered a yearly opportunity to apply for the rank of corporal and higher pay.
  • Officers who have at least five years of seniority assigned to special patrol or response duties will receive a 2.5 percent raise.
  • Restoration of double-time pay for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day

The department has 2,415 sworn officers.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez