St Pete Police demand fair negotiations with city listen06/10/08 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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On the steps of the St. Petersburg City Hall, the Pinellas County Police Benevolent Association (PBA), today protested what they said was the cityâ€™s lack of action on contract negotiations.
Jim Spearing, campaign coordinator for the state PBA in Tallahassee, said there was "frustration" that the St. Pete police have not had any offers on an employment agreement from the city since last October. Spearing said â€œthe turnover rate in this city is appalling.â€
With about 30 police officers and supporters behind him, Spearing said city police earn 24 percent less than their Tampa counterparts, a factor in why 21 percent of new recruits to the St. Petersburg Police department leave.
"They have the highest turnover rate in the area and one of the highest turnover rates in the state," Spearing said. "And thatâ€™s an indication of severe internal problems that need to be addressed, be addressed by this mayor and the leadership of this city."
Mark Deasaro, president of the Pinellas PBA, said St. Petersburg is currently offering a 3-percent raise but the police officers want a 7-percent raise to bring them to the pay scale of Pinellas County Sheriffâ€™s deputies.
The city has said no to all of the PBAâ€™s offers to negotiate, according to Deasaro.
The PBA said it will be mailing literature to city residents and walking through neighborhoods knocking on doors to get the word out about how important the police are to citizens of the city. But the current reality is that some officers donâ€™t earn enough money to purchase a house in Pinellas County, Daesaro said.
Ben Loften is a former St. Petersburg Police officer who said he left, in part because of internal problems with the department.
David Hoover is not a police officer, but he said he has several friends who are and he was there to show support.
Nina Price is married to a retired St. Pete police officer and volunteers with the PBA. â€œGive them a fair raise and bring them up to the standards of the other police departments in the area,â€ Price said.
Photo by SeÃ¡n Kinane/WMNF