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Council approves perks for police

On Sept. 18, the Federal Way City Council unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement between the Federal Way Police Guild and the city.

The agreement applies to all guild members and commissioned staff ranked as police officers. This does not include command staff, supervisors and non-commissioned staff.

The need for a new collective bargaining agreement came after the expiration of the old two-year agreement, City Attorney Pat Richardson said. By law, the city must negotiate with the guild at the end of each agreement's term, she said. The contract will last through the end of 2008.

The agreement is in the process of being implemented, Richardson said. Once in place, all officers will receive an array of benefits: A pay raise, new insurance provider, the opportunity to use department vehicles for commuting to and from work, a membership to the Federal Way Community Center and an additional floating holiday.

"I think it is an outstanding agreement," Police Chief Brian Wilson said.

As part of the contract, guild members will receive a 5.5 percent pay raise, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2007. Prior to the collective bargaining agreement, guild members' annual salaries ranged from $49,596 to $66,540, Richardson said. Those at the bottom of the pay scale will receive about $2,727 more per year. Those at the top will earn roughly $3,660 more per year.

The pay adjustment is only applicable to guild members who have passed the police academy training. Retroactive payments will only be applied to the timeframe from which the training was completed until the agreement is enacted, Richardson said.

Officers who provide field training to new officers as a way to familiarize them with department operations will see a 7 percent boost in their salary for the duration of the three-month field training, Richardson said. The Federal Way Police Department's pay scale will closely resemble that of similar police departments, Richardson said.

"When we go into negotiations, we look at how (the pay scale) compares to other comparable jurisdictions," she said.

With the pay raise will come a change in insurance providers. Like other Federal Way employees, the police guild will now use a preferred provider organization, as opposed to the previously used Regence Blue Shield, Richardson said. The PPO provider covers more preventative measures and is up-to-date on officers' needs, Wilson said.

This option is also more cost effective for the city, Richardson said.

"It does provide some savings to the city to use this," she said.

Other perks

Officers living within Federal Way city limits will be allowed to use their vehicles for commuting purposes. Some police personnel, such as school resource officers and K-9 units, which are considered on-call, are already allowed to use their vehicles in this fashion, Wilson said.

The guild and the city have formed a committee to determine if officers residing outside city limits should be permitted to take their vehicles home as well. The decision to permit these officers to commute in their patrol cars will add to the cost of maintaining the vehicles, Richardson said.

Additional automobiles, the final number undetermined, will need to be purchased so that all officers will be awarded a vehicle, Wilson said.

Memberships to the Federal Way Community Center will also be available to guild members and will last the duration of the two-year agreement.

Officers will need to pass a physical fitness test, comprised of a 1.5-mile run, 200-meter sprint, push-ups and sit-ups before the membership would be offered. The test is the same one officers face before they are hired by the Federal Way Police Department, Wilson said.

The Federal Way Community Center is an asset to the city and could prove beneficial to the officers, Wilson said.

"We have an interest in having healthy and in-shape police officers," he said.

Lastly, officers will now receive two floating holidays. Currently, guild members only get one floating holiday, Richardson said.

The agreement is a sign that the City Council recognizes the hard work and effectiveness of the police department and its officers, Wilson said.

The city and police guild both made compromises in the drafting of the collective bargaining agreement, Richardson said. What was important to one entity was not necessarily of equal importance to the other entity, she said.

"I think it is fair to say there was give and take on both sides," Richardson said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or at (253) 925-5565.

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