New 3-year contract allows St. Louis to sponsor a police academy student

By Ralph Echtinaw

St. Louis may soon sponsor a police academy student, paying his or her way, following ratification of a new three-year contract with the police union.

“When the city determines a candidate would be a good fit for the department, the city…will pay the upfront costs of sending the candidate through the police training academy, including tuition, supplies and minimum wage while attending the academy,” the contract says. 

The sponsored student will reimburse the city for the cost of the training if he or she “fails to successfully complete the training.”

To protect the city’s investment in the new officer, he or she will be required to “remain in the employ of the city for three full years after completing the program.”

City Manager Kurt Giles said “We don’t have any definite plans along those lines but wanted to have the option if a good candidate is available. I understand it is becoming more common for departments to implement this type of program.”

Open police jobs are hard to fill nowadays, and many departments are sponsoring students at regional police academies. When Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. graduated from the Northeastern Police Academy in 1997 there were 58 graduates. Over the last three years regional academies average 12-15 graduates. The Michigan State Police academy used to have an enrollment of more than 200, Ramereiz said. Nowadays it’s more like 60. Alma is already sponsoring a police academy student, and Sheriff Mike Morris said he may do the same at the county level.

Meanwhile, the city’s current officers will enjoy a five-percent raise in the first year of the new contract that began on July 1. The contract also calls for a four-percent increase beginning July 1, 2023, and a three-percent increase beginning July 1, 2024.

Here are the rates of pay for the contract’s first year:

First six months of employment: $48,691

Second six months of employment: $49,815

Second year of employment: $51,062

Third year of employment: $53,558

Fourth year and beyond: $56,178

Sergeant: $60,672

Officers also begin receiving an extra 50 cents/hour for working the night shift or mid-shift (afternoon/evening). 

Similarly, field training officers get a 50 cent/hour premium for time spent training new officers. 

That said, the officers didn’t get everything they wanted.

In looking over the St. Louis/POAM Counter Proposal of May 2, it appears that the union caved on several fronts.

“The city rejects the union proposal” appears in the document ten times.

In the case of “overtime considerations” the city made a counter proposal: “Recognized paid holidays, paid personal business leave, paid vacation, paid sick time and compensatory time used shall be considered as time worked for purposes of determining overtime pay. Unpaid absences shall not count as time worked for purposes of overtime.”

Under the “Training” heading, the city rejected the union proposal and countered with this: “Opportunities to obtain training/credentials allowing an officer to instruct, certify or teach other officers will be posted two weeks in advance when possible so officers with an interest can apply. The decision on who will attend will be made by the chief of police in his sole discretion.”

The contract was also modified in regard to training schedules:

“When an officer attends a city approved training the officer will be compensated at their straight time rate for travel to and from the training, the time spent in training class is eligible for overtime. Travel time will not be hours worked for calculating overtime. If an officer attends training on their regularly schedule workday they may return to work to finish their shift or use accrued paid time off to cover the time remaining on their shift, or they shall take the remainder of the shift unpaid.”

The contract also changes holiday pay like so:

“Holiday hours are 110 per year for full-time police officers. Such time shall be accrued at the rate of 10 straight time hours for each holiday as it passes. The total accrued time shall be paid in an officer’s final regular paycheck prior to Thanksgiving each year.”

The following was added regarding holiday pay for administrative officers:

“When a sergeant is assigned to a Monday through Friday position in the office, working regular office hours, Section 17.2 (holiday pay) will not apply to that officer. Instead, the officer will follow the office staff holiday policy. The officer will not work on the holiday and will be paid eight hours straight time through regular payroll as holiday pay.”

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