MUNROE FALLS — With City Council poised to vote on a trio of police union contracts, a police sergeant is speaking out to say he is opposed to a contract proposal to move some part-time officers into part-time sergeant positions.
An expected vote on the city administration’s contracts with the union representing the full-time sergeants, the union representing the full-time patrol officers and the union representing the part-time sergeants and patrol officers on Nov. 21 did not occur after Council members said they did not receive copies of the proposed changes to two of the three deals. The legislation to approve the contracts will be back before Council on a third reading on Dec. 5.
During the Nov. 21 meeting, Council member Mike Barnes (At Large) asked Police Sgt. Bob Post if he was willing to publicly share any information about the proposed deals. Law Director Tom Kostoff said he thought the question was not appropriate, particularly because the union’s attorney was not present and Post might wish to consult with legal counsel before answering the question. Post did not respond to Barnes’ question.
Post, who joined the department as a reserve officer in 1998 and lives in Munroe Falls, told the Stow Sentry on Thursday "because of the negotiations, I didn’t know if I legally could" answer Barnes’ question.
Post said he has decided to share some general information about one of the proposed contracts after the issue about part-time sergeants was briefly raised by a resident during a public comment portion of the Nov. 21 meeting.
Post told the Sentry that he is against a component of the proposed part-time sergeants and patrol officers’ contract that would promote some part-time officers to part-time sergeant posts and put them on an equal level with the department’s two full-time sergeants. Post declined to provide the number of patrol officers who would become sergeants.
"Because it’s in negotiations, I don’t want to give specific details of the contract," said Post, who added there are not currently any part-time sergeants on the police force.
"I am totally against any expansion of the part-time [force]," said Post to the Sentry Thursday.
When asked, Post confirmed that the part-time officers who would be promoted to sergeant are officers who previously retired and returned to the department in a part-time capacity.
Post said he does not believe that the police levy approved by voters in May was intended to pay for expanding the part-time ranks in this manner. He said the levy is supposed to pay for hiring full-time officers, which he said the department is in the process of doing. Post said the police department has been dealing with a large turnover rate of part-time officers who leave the department once they find a full-time job at another department. That is one of the reasons why a committee evaluating city expenses determined that the department needs to increase the amount of full-time officers and reduce the number of part-timers, said Post.
"I’m not for anything that expands the part-time," said Post. "I want it to remain that we are pursuing full-time [officers]."
Post said he also opposes adding part-time sergeants because it would prevent full-time officers from advancing to a higher level within the department and could even lead to full-time officers leaving the force to go to a department that provides advancement opportunities.
The three contracts, if approved by Council, would be in effect from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2020.
The Sentry requested copies of the proposed contracts from Mayor James Armstrong, but Armstrong wrote in an emailed reply: "Since the proposed police contracts are not public records, I am not comfortable releasing the documents until after they are voted on. If council votes against the contracts, then we would again be in negotiations and/or going directly to SERB [State Employment Relations Board]."
City Council will meet Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.