The first mutually agreed upon labor contract between the Metropolitan Police Department and Washington, D.C. police union Fraternal Order of Police in almost two decades was reached Aug. 30, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced last week.
Following more than a year of negotiations, the new contract offers union members increased wages and matches medical insurance benefits with existing District government packages.
Over 3,500 members of law enforcement in the city are set to receive a 3 percent retroactive raise in fiscal year 2018, a 2 percent increase in FY19 and a 3.5 percent raise in FY20 under the latest collective bargaining agreement, according to an Aug. 30 news release. The last agreement reached in 2014 through an arbitrator followed six years without a raise for MPD officers, according to DCist.
In addition, previously independent insurance coverage provided to the union members will be replaced by coverage under the Bowser administration’s dental and vision insurance plans.
Bowser emphasized the critical role the law enforcement officers play in maintaining the safety of the District in her introduction of the updated labor contract Aug. 30.
“Members of the Metropolitan Police Department put their lives on the line every day to protect our city,” Bowser wrote in an Aug. 30 news release. “This new collective bargaining agreement shows our commitment to the courageous men and women who are helping us build a safer, stronger Washington, DC.”
The first to come to fruition without an impasse or arbitration since 2001, the updated contract advances crucial investments highlighted in Bowser’s FY19 budget, such as new uniforms for all MPD officers and augmented funds for officer retention programs.
The agreement also supports the Bowser administration’s previously announced initiatives to expand the MPD civilian cadet program from 70 to 100 incoming high school graduates seeking to begin a career in law enforcement, according to an April 13 news release.
The larger cadet program increases the pool of talent that would eventually stay on to become sworn officers, MPD Chief Peter Newsham told The Washington Post.
For the past few years, MPD has struggled to replace a growing number of retiring officers following a hiring push in the late 1980s when almost 1,500 new officers joined the department, according to DCist.
An ongoing imbalance between the rate of retiring officers and hiring new recruits led District leaders to implement several incentives to increase the size of the police force in 2017, such as growing the hiring pool among D.C. residents and rehiring retired officers for up to five years, according to The Washington Post.
The more expansive benefits offered by the latest agreement are anticipated to further bolster MPD’s recruitment, Newsham said in an Aug. 30 news release.
“This increase will help attract new officers to the Metropolitan Police Department as we continue to navigate the current retirement bubble,” Newsham said.
The labor contract must first be ratified by members of the Fraternal Order of Police and voted on favorably by the D.C. Council prior to coming into effect, according to MPD Office of Communications Director Dustin Sternbeck.
“The Union has 30 days for its membership to ratify the contract,” Sternbeck said. “Upon ratification, the compensation portions will be submitted to the Council, and will go into effect upon the Council’s approval. Ratification and approval are for the contract as is; there is no ability to change the tentative agreement. If the membership does not ratify, or the Council does not approve, the parties return to the table to resume negotiations.”