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COAST, CENTRAL, AND NORTHWEST CITIES : GARDEN GROVE

City Set to OK Police Contract

August 22, 2000|CHRIS CEBALLOS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The City Council is expected to approve a three-year salary contract for Garden Grove police tonight.

The contract, recently approved by the Garden Grove Police Assn., calls for a 3.5% salary increase in 2001 and a 5% increase in 2002.

"Is it nice to have negotiations settled for a while? Sure," said Catherine Standiford, deputy city manager. "I think there was a conscious desire on both sides that if we could get mutually agreeable terms, then it's to everyone's benefit to have a longer contract."

After almost a year of bitter negotiations, the City Council gave a 5% raise to officers and a 3% increase to sergeants in February, both on top of a 5% increase approved earlier in the year.

City officials then feared a mass exodus of police--upset that they were only the 20th-best-paid officers in the county. The new raises will make Garden Grove officers fourth-highest paid in the county.

Standiford said that as of last week the department, at 156 officers, was only three officers short of being at full force and that four recruits are scheduled to graduate from the department's academy in October.

"At any given time there's always people coming and going," Standiford said. "And we're still actively recruiting and have qualified officers in the pipeline."

The agreement also calls for increases in health and cafeteria benefits and a 50% increase in retirement benefits that takes effect in October 2001.

City officials hope to negotiate a similar retirement benefit for city firefighters, whose contract is up next year, and tie the two programs together.

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The salary contract for police captains and lieutenants also is up for consideration tonight. It calls for the same 8.5% increase over three years but also includes a 2% raise retroactive to July. Captains and lieutenants have a separate bargaining group and did not receive the 3% increase sergeants received in February.

Standiford said it was the absence of lawyers--until the final wording was drafted--that made this round of salary negotiations less volatile.

"There wasn't as much posturing," she said. "We focused on their needs and what our abilities were. It took several meetings but everyone was committed to working through [the issues]."

Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-7440.

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