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Syracuse lawmakers approve new contract for city police department

Syracuse Police Department Headquarters.
Syracuse Police Department Headquarters.

Syracuse lawmakers Monday approved a new contract with the Syracuse City Police Department. It is a pact meant to help ease the department’s staffing shortage.

Deputy Police Chief Richard Trudell said one of the reasons former SPD officers say they have left for other law enforcement departments is the work schedule. So Trudell said this agreement immediately deals with that, giving officers a ten-hour instead of an eight-hour work day.

"This new schedule allows more time off,” Trudell said. “Officers can decompress. It’s very busy out there, there’s lots of challenges and having extra time off is beneficial to our officers."

Trudell also said that this schedule would still allow for the same amount of community service.

"We looked at recruitment and retention when we went into contract negotiations. We feel this schedule is a balance for that. Officers get more time off because they work longer when they are here, and the community gets the same amount of service with some flexibility.”

The agreement includes a yearly 1.75% salary increase, as well as some new benefits, like family leave, and a new promotion mechanism meant to make the job more appealing to women and minorities. Trudell said it is not only on par with other local police agencies, but departments in Rochester and Buffalo.

"So Rochester and Buffalo make a little bit more than us, based on this current salary schedule,” Trudell said. “But there are other components to a police contract. How much you pay in medical. So when you package it all together, salary, medical, sick incentives, all those different things, language incentives, we become competitive across the board."

Chief Joe Cecile hopes the pact helps put more officers on the street. He’s looking forward to a new civil service list offering 43 potential new officers. But he admits the city is digging out of a big hole. Right now there are about 365 cops in the department.

"There were times we had over 500,” Cecile said “I don’t think we need that anymore, but 450 to 470 is a number that would be acceptable for everything we are asked to do."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.