The Portland City Council approved a three-year contract with the Portland Police Association that increases spending by about $5 million. The contract attempts to reduce overtime costs, implements a random drug testing program and also affirms police accountability reforms made by council in spring of 2010.
The cost of living for officers will increase by a minimum of 1 percent and a maximum of 5 percent for fiscal year 2011 through 2013.
Police union members are now subject to random drug testing for alcohol and for those drugs included in the traditional "war on drugs" such as marijuana, cocaine, LSD, and amphetamines. They will not be subject to testing of steroids, except in individual cases where suspicion is present. They will also not be subject to post-incident testing, a sore spot for many community activists, such as the Albina Ministerial Alliance.
One provision stipulates that officers will be able to "not waive its or its members' right to challenge legality of subpoena provision" in reference to the police oversight reforms passed by council in March, despite the fact that sworn officers cannot be subpoenaed by Independent Police Review investigators, according to IPR Director Mary Beth Baptista. They can be compelled to testify by the Portland Police's Internal Affairs Division. The IPR only has the power to subpoena witnesses, documents, photos and other evidence.
"It affects us in no way," she told The Skanner News, referring to the union contract.
If anything, the new contract codifies the council's intention toward police accountability.
"It doesn't unravel any of the changes we made last March," she said.
The new agreement also looks to reducing the costs of overtime by giving management "absolute discretion" to deny overtime requested 30 days or less in advance. It also reforms the way police award "comp-time." Often, when an officer is awarded comp-time, their position is back-filled by someone making overtime. Police management can now deny or cancel comp-time when it must be back-filled.
An officer's education reimbursement has also been increased from 9 to 13.5 hours and increases a "top step" officer's salary by 2 percent if that officer holds a Bachelor's Degree. That provision doesn't take effect until 2013.
Read the contract here