By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On the heels of the federal indictments of six Philadelphia narcotics officers, Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey now has new powers to rotate officers in and out of that division, thanks to a new police labor contract issued today by an arbitration panel.
Commissioner Ramsey has long wanted the ability to rotate officers out of the department’s narcotics and Internal Affairs units, but such moves had been prohibited by the city’s contract with the union representing police: the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Lodge 5.
Ramsey even repeated his stance yesterday, shortly after the US attorney’s office in Philadelphia announced the indictment of six narcotics officers on corruption charges.
Now, one day later, Ramsey appears to be getting his wish: a just-released contract award to the FOP gives Ramsey the power to rotate officers in both Narcotics and IAD.
Ramsey says that flexibility is needed not simply to stem corruption, but to give other officers a chance to serve in those units:
“I know that because of what happened yesterday, a lot of people are looking at it as strictly a disciplinary issue. It’s not. This gives opportunity to good, hard-working officers to be able to experience working in some of these units that otherwise they may not have had the opportunity,” Ramsey said today.
The union had opposed the practice of rotating officers in and out of Narcotics and IAD, arguing that long tenure makes for more specialized experience in those areas, and allows investigators to develop sources.
Beyond allowing the rotation of officers, the three-year contract gives officers raises of three percent in the first year, retroactive to this past July 1st, and 3.25 percent in each of the second and third years.
The award also gives the commissioner greater flexibility in scheduling to limit overtime, the ability to delay discipline for minor infractions, and — for the first time — the ability to select some commanders through a merit-based process.
Mayor Nutter praised the managerial changes, including the rotation of narcotics and IAD officers:
“Sometimes it’s just good for people to get a different experience and let others do the same job and have that opportunity. And sometimes it’s just good for people to move on, because they have lost their way,” the mayor said.
Joining the mayor and the police commissioner for the press conference, FOP chief John McNesby said the union “can deal with” the changes and will work with the commissioner on how to implement them.
“The main concern for our officers out there is their medical coverage and money in their pocket, and I believe this delivered both,” McNesby said.
Nutter said the new contract will cost the city $70 million more than had been budgeted over the deal’s three years. His administration now has twenty days to revise the city’s five-year budget plan to reflect the added cost.
When asked if this would necessitate cuts to city services, Nutter said he hopes not:
“We will do everything we possibly can to avoid service impacts on the citizens of this city. They have endured a lot. We’ve asked a lot.”