The Stockton Police Officers Association agreed to a more than $42 million budget increase following nearly 10 months of negotiations with the city.

Stockton City Council unanimously approved the new three-year contract at its meeting last week through the consent agenda. The city’s prior contract with its police union had expired nearly three months after its membership overwhelmingly rejected a previous offer in June.

The new contract triples the $14 million increase provided by the city last time around. 

“We appreciate the work of our safety officers, and this is a step in the right direction,” Vice Mayor Christina Fugazi said during the meeting.

Stockton’s rank and file officers and sergeants will see a nearly 18% increase to their base pay and 6% in health insurance premium contributions over the next three years, as well as a one-time $5,000 bonus to all union members next summer at the start of the new fiscal year, according to agenda documents

Following Council approval, the new agreement went into effect retroactively to July 1, when the union’s previous contract with the city expired, and will run through 2025. 

SPOA President Patrick High said the union members voted overwhelmingly to accept the offer,  but was skeptical the new contract would significantly reverse the trend of officers leaving the SPD for other departments. As of the end of September, the SPD had 381 sworn officer, more than 100 under capacity.

“We’re glad the city came up from their initial offer, ” High said. “And we’re glad we were able to settle before the new year. Whether or not the amount is enough to retain officers, time will tell.”

About 80 percent of the association’s membership, which consists of the Stockton Police Department’s rank and file officers and sergeants, voted to turn down an offer from the city in June.

Stockton City Manager Harry Black said in July that the police union had been offered a $39.5 million budget increase, which he had described as “the most generous” in the city’s history and included similar terms to those in the current contract.

However, the union’s membership rejected the offer due to what was described as significant pay disparities with other comparable cities and a lack of pre-bankruptcy incentives. Lower pay has been cited as a leading reason for the department being unable to recruit and retain staffing levels.

One of the most significant differences from the previous offer to the approved new contract is the base pay increase from 16% to nearly 18%.  

Stockton declared bankruptcy in 2012 following the housing market crash of 2008. During last week’s meeting, Vice Mayor Fugazi said the city was still in bankruptcy when she was first elected to City Council. “And it was tough,” she said.

But through fiscal restraint and legislation such as Measure A — a sales tax used to pay for law enforcement, crime prevention services and services to residents, businesses and property owners — Fugazi said Stockton has been able to provide good pay and benefit packages to both its police officers and firefighters. She cited the officers’ pay increase particularly as making the city more competitive with other agencies.

“And I think during the next cycle, we will be there and we will be able to bump us up to the top,” Fugazi said.

The city also upped these other unions’ contracts to match police. The three other Stockton public safety unions —  Stockton Police Management Association, Stockton Firefighters’ Local 456 Fire Unit and Stockton Firefighters’ Local 456 Fire Management — reached agreements with the city months ago. 

“We went back to the others and made sure they were comparable,” Black said. “We did not have to do, but felt it was the right thing to do.”

left right thing to do.

Black said the city’s long=range financial planning indicated that the new contracts will work fiscally.

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