Fort Worth City Council Approves New Police Contract
The Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday night voted to approve a new four-year police contract, despite calls to postpone the vote for a second time.
The city and the Fort Worth police union negotiated the contract, which includes across-the-board annual pay raises.
It also gets rid of an incentive for officer candidates who live in Fort Worth: extra points on an entry-level exam. Officers are not required to live in the city, and over half of the force lives elsewhere.
The City Council’s vote on the contract was previously scheduled for June 4, but council member Ann Zadeh moved to delay it.
Racial justice demonstrations were intense at the time of that meeting. On June 4, protesters marched around City Hall and spoke in front of the council to criticize the curfew put in place after an incident a few nights before, when police launched tear gas at a crowd of protesters.
United Fort Worth, an activist group that campaigns for changes in the police department, wanted another postponement or a “no” vote on the contract until the city addressed six concerns, including the across-the-board pay raises.
“Police are public servants whose salaries are paid by the communities that they agree to serve," United Fort Worth wrote in a letter to city politicians. "If they have complaints filed against them and performance issues, they should not be rewarded with more money.”
United Fort Worth also asked for changes to the way the contract allows police to handle misconduct. The group wanted to get rid of the clause that gives officers under investigation 48 hours notice before their interviews, and asked the department to make disciplinary records public.
At the City Council meeting, Fort Worth police union president Manny Ramirez insisted that police reform can still happen, but it's a separate matter from what this contract negotiates.
"This is a wages and benefits agreement that governs wages, benefits, working conditions, due process rights, protections, and that's it," he said.
Several community members stood up in support of United Fort Worth's requests, and Zadeh even moved to postpone the vote again. She said she wanted to wait to hear the opinions of the city's police monitor, as well as the outside consultants currently reviewing the police department.
"If we were under an impending deadline, and had to agree today, or even next week, or even next month, I could see possibly supporting this agreement and this compromise," Zadeh said. "But the fact is that we're not under a significant time constraint."
However, no one seconded her motion, and the contract passed 8-1. Only Zadeh voted against.
The new contract will run until September 2024.
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