Camas, police sign new contract

City council adopts 4-year agreement with officers’ union

Mitch Lackey, Camas police chief

At their regular council meeting Monday night, Camas city councilors unanimously approved a new, four-year bargaining agreement between the city and its police officers’ union.

Already ratified by the Camas Police Officers’ Association, the contract is for the period between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2020.

The 38-page contract outlines every aspect of the officers’ compensation and work environment — from overtime and promotions to health benefits, strikes, mileage allowance and, of course, wages.

A few highlights from the new bargaining agreement include:

  • Wage Increases: Officers will receive a retroactive, 4.5-percent wage increase for the period between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2017; a 4-percent increase beginning Jan. 1, 2018; and wage increases between 2 percent and 4 percent effective Jan. 1, 2019 and again on Jan. 1, 2020. Pay scales for Camas officers, effective Jan. 1, 2018, start at $5,807 per month for tier 1 and go up to $6,934 per month for tier 7. For police sergeants, the scale is $6,871 per month for tier 1 and up to $8,199 per month for tier 7.
  • Work Schedules: The contract defines a “normal work day” for patrol officers and sergeants as a “5/4 work schedule” with 10.6-hour work days that include time for lunch breaks. Officers and sergeants will work five consecutive days, followed by four days off and then five days on and five days off. The contract states that “the work week shall not exceed 53 hours” except for special instances outlined in the bargaining agreement and agreed on by both parties.
  • Overtime: Overtime pay is defined as one and one-half the regular pay rate, and is defined as “all hours worked outside of an employee’s regularly scheduled shift, with permission of the supervisor.”
  • Holidays and Vacations: Officers will be granted 138 hours of annual holiday time each year in lieu of actual holidays off. They can “buy back” portions of accrued holiday time in blocks of at least 10 hours. Officers who have zero to four years with the department accrue eight hours of vacation time each month for a total of 96 hours per year. For officers with five to nine years’ experience, the vacation time is 144 hours per year. It goes up from there, with the most experienced officers — those with 20 or more years of service — receiving 240 hours of paid vacation each year.
  • Health Insurance: The city pays medical coverage premiums at 100 percent for the employee and at 90 percent for dependents.

Police chief says department needs more officers on “front lines”

Before the city council’s regular meeting on Monday, at a 4:30 p.m. work session, council members heard from Camas Police Chief Mitch Lackey, who gave a presentation on his department’s staffing needs.

Showing charts that graphed the city’s population explosion against the police department’s stagnant growth — the city has not OK’d a new police position in 13 years — Chief Lackey said he needs to hire more police officers to keep up with Camas’ popularity and booming development.

“We are adequately funded in the areas of tools and supplies, but staffing levels for front-line police officers are inadequate,” Lackey told councilors on Monday. “The growth of the city, in both land and population, (is) creating increased demand on the law enforcement resources.”

Lackey said that, while the city’s population has grown by roughly 44 percent over the past decade, the Camas police force has stayed the same, with 21 uniformed patrol officers, three investigators, one full-time and one part-time staff on the offender work crew, three records department staff members, one part-code enforcement and part-parking enforcement officer and three command administrators, including the chief, the police captain and and administrative sergeant.

Telling city councilors that his department runs lean when it comes to administration and overhead costs, Lackey said he would be asking city leaders to fund one full-time officer in 2019, one full-time officer in 2020, one part-time police records clerk to keep up with public records demands and one part-time code enforcement officer to be more proactive with the city’s codes — something Camas residents indicated as important to them in the city’s 2017 community needs survey.

“The majority of law enforcement services cannot be delivered in any other fashion than by a person,” Lackey said. “Thus, our need for (additional officers and staff) is our most pressing need.”