The nearly 850 Fresno police officers are now back under contract after the city struck a new labor accord.
Announced late Thursday afternoon after a 7-0 vote by the Fresno City Council and ratified by 96% of the members of the Fresno Police Officers’ Association, the new three-year deal gives officers a 3% raise and starts new officers at a higher rate.
Fresno officers have been working without a contract since the last deal expired in June 2021. In addition to a bump in pay, officers will have a new method to select shifts and take time off.
“We’re very proud of this agreement. It’s been a long time coming,” FPOA vice president Jordan Wamhoff said. “(This contract) makes us the highest-paid officers in the Valley. We’re very proud of that. This is a big first step in making Fresno PD, the premier law enforcement agency in the Valley, and this is a great big step in rebuilding our department to where it needs to be to keep this community safe.”
Indirectly, Mayor Jerry Dyer said the raises for both veteran and new officers will help build the department.
“We want to make sure that they are compensated fairly and I can guarantee you this contract was a fair compensation. And again, (it) puts us at the top in terms of what we pay officers in the Valley. And I believe it’s going to remedy our retention and recruiting problems,” Dyer said.
The deal, through June 16, 2024, will cost the city nearly $27 million extra from the general fund over the next three years.
Watch: Police Officers Strike New Deal With City Hall
Stalled Negotiations Turned Around
The negotiations seemed to sour earlier this month when 82% of FPOA membership rejected an earlier deal. Pay and “the matrix” system of shift selection were the main sticking points.
Another change was at the city’s side of the negotiating table. City Manager Thomas Esqueda bolted from a meeting after talks stalled two weeks ago, sources have told GV Wire. He subsequently announced his resignation 10 days later.
However, Dyer and Wamhoff said Esqueda’s absence was not a factor.
“I think they were seamless in terms of how that was affected,” Dyer said. “I will tell this, that in our last closed session, the council had asked if I would sit at the table with (city personnel director) TJ Miller. And I did for the negotiations. I think that made it a little easier on all of us in terms of communication. But quite honestly, I don’t think there was any impact as a result of that. We were able to get it done collectively.”
Said Wamhoff: “I don’t think there was any impact whatsoever. I felt like it was seamless. And the last two weeks have been very productive in our meetings.”
Under the agreement, wages will increase 3% yearly, with a retroactive raise dating back to June 2021 for officers and managers. Pay “steps” A and B, where new recruits are placed, will be eliminated and will now start at Step C. Two new steps, H and I, will replace A and B, allowing police to earn more money with more experience on the job.
Dyer said that could mean $950 more a month in pay for new officers.
“I can’t provide a better service to the citizens if I don’t have enough police officers. That’s always going to be a hindrance to us. And now we have a plan to hire, fills vacancies to hire more officers to expand the police department,” Police Chief Paco Balderrama said.
Balderrama said with more staffing, violent crime will decrease.
A transfer portal program will replace “the matrix” to allow officers to sign up for shifts they prefer. Balderrama said this will create more consistency
“I happen to believe that officers who are invested in a certain shift in a certain part of town in a certain community tend to perform better because they know the neighborhood, they know the store owners, the people who live there, and then they know about the trouble spots. So in order to better serve our community, I want that consistency, especially in the patrol shifts,” Balderrama said.