Mayoral candidates respond to Mayor Berry's new police recruitment plan

Posted at: 08/18/2013 9:42 PM
Updated at: 08/19/2013 7:10 AM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Two months before the city’s mayoral election, Mayor Richard Berry is unveiling a new plan to recruit new police officers.

The plan includes pay raises and special bonuses.

Candidates running against the mayor say he is a flip-flopper because just a few years ago these were the things he cut.

Mayor Richard Berry and Interim Police Chief Allen Banks announced new incentives to hire 150 more police officers.

They want to give officers about $13,000 more a year, bring back bonuses for senior officers and forgive college loans for new recruits.

"This brings experience back to the front lines, it entices officers to stay on the force, it entices officers to come back to the force, and it gives us the option to never cut quality standards,” said Mayor Berry.

The mayoral candidates running against Berry say he is going back on his word.

They say Berry cut the kind of incentives for APD that he now wants to bring back.

"This problem was created by him when he refused to give the police officers their raises, they have now been working without a contract for the last three and half years and the mayor has called impasse on the contract and he also took away the incentive pay and he took away the officers patrol cars,” said mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli.

"Really?  This doesn't smell of politics?  Right before the election I want to give you a raise. You know what Mr. Berry...none of the officers trust you,“ mayoral candidate Paul Heh said, “what are you going to take away from them after you give them a 62 cents an hour raise? “

Paul Heh and Pete Dinelli argue the mayor had lots of time to find ways to recruit officers, and he is only doing it at the height of the mayoral election season.

Part of Richard Berry’s recruitment and retention plan requires the state legislature to make some changes in the state’s retirement laws.

The idea of pay raises are pending union negotiations and were already announced last week by three city councilors.