‘Being delayed is not always being denied’ salary negotiations continue for FMPD

Reporter: Annette Montgomery
Published: Updated:

The Fort Myers Police Union is protesting for higher pay for their officers, saying the current salary is causing a shortage of active-duty officers on the field.

Now we’re hearing from a former officer on the force who is now a city councilman amid the ongoing salary negotiations.

Fort Myers city councilman Johnny Streets said he became aware of the concern from officers after watching WINK News Wednesday morning.

“It’s very serious when they take to the media to alarm the public that they may not be safe. I think the mayor and the council and our colleagues won’t take it lightly,” Streets said. “We will do everything to meet them, to what their needs are, to make sure that they are happy coming to work.”

The Union is asking for a $5 per hour increase for officers.

WINK NEWS spoke with Jon Price, the President of the Fort Myers Police Union, about why the pay increase is important.

“We are the lowest-paid agency in this area. We are 10 to $15,000, behind our competitors. During that time, we’ve lost several members,” said Price. “What we’re asking for is a $5 an hour raise. That seems like a lot, but it only makes us about third in the area for pay to be competitive for recruiting.”

Another issue is that 911 operators are operating at 60% staffing, which means officers have to leave their current positions to fill in dispatcher gaps.

It’s an issue Streets said was around when he was on the force, but the public should not be concerned about the city not having enough officers on the street.

“Well, having come from perhaps one of the greatest departments in the country, we have been dealing with that for years. Everybody doesn’t want to be a police officer. It’s stressful. It’s busy, but we also have to listen to what the needs are.” Streets said.

Due to the pay discrepancy, officers are leaving for other agencies, according to the president of the police union. On average, the department pays more than $100,000 to hire, train and purchase equipment per new hire.

The police union has been negotiating contracts with the City of Fort Myers for nearly a year and a half.

The difference between what the union wants and what the city offers is roughly $600,000.

The union is encouraging Fort Myers residents to contact the City Manager’s Office to support the police union, but Streets said he’s confident the city’s negotiation team and the police union will come to an agreement that works for everyone.

“I want both parties to leave thinking that they won. That’s the way you do this. You have to go into it with an open mind: what’s best, what’s needed right now. This is one of the greatest cities in the country that I think that I was a part of,” Streets said, “so it’s nothing adversarial. I thank the President of the league for looking out for the officers, and I thank our negotiation team for looking out for the city to make sure we are financially able to do the other things we need to do.”

The next negotiation meeting between the union and the city will be on Nov. 27.

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