Alice Gregory, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer December 20, 2000 Wednesday Final Edition Copyright 2000 Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc. The Palm Beach Post December 20, 2000 Wednesday Final Edition
(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- A new police contract will double the number of officers on the street during a shift, but also will require them to work longer hours.
During negotiations with the Police Benevolent Association, city officials said they wanted more officers on patrol without having to hire more officers. As a result, patrol officers will work 12-hour shifts, adding four hours to their workdays starting in mid-January.
Commissioners Tuesday night approved the shift change, which will affect about 65 officers. The change will increase the force from six-to-eight officers during an eight-hour shift to 12-to-16 officers on each 12-hour shift, said Assistant Police Chief Matt Immler. Delray Beach and West Palm Beach police operate on similar schedules.
Officers approved the contract with a vote of 43-42, said Detective James Mahoney, lead representative for the Police Benevolent Association. He said there is still some resistance to the scheduling.
"Until you get used to it and comfortable with it, people are always hesitant with change," Mahoney said. "But it will save in overtime expenses from the city and it will give the city more coverage with patrol officers on the street, which is what they wanted."
Officers will get a three-day weekend every other weekend, and will come to work about 70 fewer days per year, Immler said. However, officers will work the same number of hours as they do now. The police department will use $286,000 from its overtime budget to cover an 8.5 percent pay increase for officers working the 12-hour shift.
The city and union also agreed to an additional 4 percent salary increase for all union members and a 1 percent lump sum raise to offset a medical insurance fee increase. City commissioners in early September increased the fee city employees will have to pay for health insurance.