Long Beach and the union representing its sworn police officers have reached a deal on a three-year contract that will boost their wages over the next three years and provide monetary incentives for officers who attract recruits and transfers into the department.
The three-year agreement has already been ratified by members of the Long Beach Police Officers Association and now requires the City Council to sign off on it.
If approved, the agreement will include three annual wage increases starting this year (5.5%) with additional raises in 2023 (3.5%) and 2024 (2.5%).
Some of the bigger changes with the new police officers’ contract are $5,000 retention bonuses for most POA members in 2024, escalating longevity pay increases for officers who stay with the department for more than 10 years and a referral bonus program for officers who help recruit others into the ranks.
LBPOA President Rich Chambers said that police officers are in high demand, and every department across the region is using incentives to try and draw officers to their cities.
Chambers said the pay increases could help keep Long Beach officers from leaving, and the recruitment bonuses, which are not capped, could help fill empty positions. The city had looked earlier this year at bonuses for officers in an attempt to fill vacant positions within the ranks.
Officers can earn $3,000 for a new recruit that joins and graduates the academy and passes a probationary period. For lateral officers, those who transfer from other departments, the bonus is $4,000 once those officers have served at least six months and passed their probation.
“Importantly, we won’t have to wait an additional 18 months to use them,” Chambers said of lateral transfers, in comparison to new recruits who have to go through the academy. “We get to use them much sooner.”
In total, the new contract will cost the city about $25.3 million over the course of the three-year extension, which will come from the general fund. Combined with other recently approved city employee contracts, the projected budget deficit for next year is now at $42.8 million, according to the city.
While that number could change based on revenue generated by the city over the course of the next year, one of its biggest sources of funds, the Measure A sales tax that has generated over $60 million in recent years, is projected to bring in as little as $38 million in the next fiscal year.
The change is due to Long Beach paying into a countywide homeless tax for the next five years, something it has avoided since 2016 because Measure A had put the city at the maximum allowed local sales tax. A city memo said that the larger deficit would likely require future service reductions if more revenue is not identified.
The City Council is expected to vote on the new police department contract at its Nov. 1 meeting.