Some Syracuse councilors are receptive to a police union contract, already agreed to by the mayor and the union. The council is expected to vote on the contract in two weeks.
Councilor-at-Large Michael Greene said the biggest benefit is a provision that requires all new members of the police union to live in the city of Syracuse for their first five years.
“I think that it’s an important thing that we’ve heard from a lot of constituents is having a better connection between the police officers and the community,” Greene said.
Proactive policing is a priority, said First Deputy Chief Joe Cecile. Other key areas of interest in the contract negotiations, he said, were recruitment and retention.
“It gives incentives for folks to become police officers, to apply to be police officers," Cecile said. "It has some incentives to keep some seasoned officers from walking out the door.”
The contract gives salary increases to officers that can speak a second language, with Spanish as a priority, and also for officers with college degrees and military service. Cecile said some of those are incentives no other police departments are offering in central New York.
“You suddenly see that, and you decide not only that you want to be a police officer, but you decide you want to come here instead of some other municipality, because there are these extra incentives," Cecile said.
There’s also a boost in pay for higher ranks and to keep officers around longer. The mayor's administration estimates the incentives could cost an extra $12 million by 2022.
The number of police officer applications, the department has received in recent years, has been going down. Cecile said they are in the process of developing a two-year paid internship with students from the Public Service Leadership Academy at Fowler High School, so the department can hold the interest of diverse, city residents who want to become officers, until they are old enough to take the test.