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Tampa police union approves contract

It was close, but a Tampa police officers union on Friday approved a new, three-year contract with the city.

The new agreement between the city and the Hillsborough County Police Benevolent Association provides for 8 percent raises over three years _ 2 percent for this year and 3 percent in the next two years.

The agreement also provides a new, senior-level pay position for sergeants to recognize seniority and establishes a committee to set guidelines for promotions.

The vote was 267 for, 237 against. The PBA represents about 800 officers.

Jim Thompson, vice-president of the union, said the new contract addressed many of the concerns raised by officers when they rejected a preliminary contract last month.

"We identified four problems from the original vote," Thompson said. "You have to identify the major issues. Hopefully, we've done that."

The new contract calls for the establishment of a seven-member committee of PBA members and city representatives that will make recommendations on how promotions should be made, establish time and pay guidelines for a new sergeants' pay grade and set criteria that would allow some detectives to qualify for corporal's pay.

Thompson said the new senior pay grade for sergeants was in keeping with similar positions of "master police officers." To qualify for the additional pay, which can amount to several thousand dollars a year, officers must have 10 years of experience, outstanding evaluations and the ability to meet certain fitness and marksmanship standards.

"Over the last six years, the city has established a senior position for patrolmen, corporals and detectives," Thompson said. "Now we will have senior sergeants."