There was plenty of business to address at the Medley council meeting on Monday night, March 2 but none was more important than when the council, led by Mayor Roberto Martell, had the opportunity to unanimously vote for and ratify a brand new agreement between the Medley Police Department and the Police Benevolent Association (PBA).
And that’s exactly what happened. The crowd broke out into applause when the new contract was approved as Chief of Police Jeanette Said-Jinete along with Medley Police detective Fernando Perez and officer Mark Graham, the two police department representatives who worked with the PBA to hammer out the agreement, went one by one along the dais to personally thank each council member.
“My thanks first and foremost to our council for its continued support of the Medley Police Department,” Said-Jinete said. “On behalf of the Medley PD, I’m very appreciative to the council and both of our officers, Perez and Graham, who worked so hard to get this done. The way that it was handled was very important because it definitely can impact morale in a negative way if things are not handled properly.”
The agreement was a three-year deal and was retroactive back to Oct. 1, 2014 when the current agreement expired (the Medley officers worked under the old contract for the five-month window) and this one will expire on Sept. 30, 2017.
“I want to thank the council so much, we’re very grateful to work with some great leadership and (it) makes it great to come to work every day,” Perez said. “Our council and mayor, they support us 100 percent and it was smooth, we had no problems and we’re very thankful for their support and what they do for the city. Things like this are never about one person. It was a team effort as far as me and Mark collaborating, dealing with the council, the attorneys and everything went really smooth.”
There were many details to the new agreement, which was an 87-page document handed out to each of the council members, but the big things, the most important items, were:
• A 2.5 percent across-the-board increase in salary for each of the three years for all Medley police officers.
• An increase in the pension benefits.
• A 1 percent COLI (Cost of Living Increase) from retirement to the age of 62.
“Just great communication with all sides and good solid communication. Honest dialogue is always so crucial in getting something like this accomplished and thus this had a great ending,” Graham said. “A lot of credit also has to go to Andrew Axelrod, who worked with us on the PBA side.”
But, like his chief and partner, Perez, Graham said the key was having a city council that they felt always had their back.
“In a time when police departments and cities are having a great deal of problems in trying to get deals hammered out, we’re very fortunate to have a council and an administration that is always supporting the police and we likewise will support them,” Graham said. “We had things pretty much done and everything agreed upon back on Oct. 1 when we hit the deadline; it was just a matter of just getting the paperwork done.”
Other positive things that Perez and Graham pointed out in the new contract included:
• A shift differential increase for the afternoon shift and midnight shift.
• Now when an officer retires, he or she will receive that Cost of Living Increase until they turn 62.
• They will no longer have to wait until they have 10 years of service to cash in a 40-hour block of vacation, so for those who want a little extra and don’t want to take that time off, they can go ahead and cash in that 40-hour block of vacation.
“This was a very important and vital thing that our town got accomplished tonight,” Martell said. “The way that we as a council look at it, the police department is the one that keeps our city, our people, our businesses safe, that attracts businesses to our town and when the police department asks for something that is reasonable and within our means, we work hard to give it to them. There was a little bit of back and forth but we were always at arm’s length working together to get it done. We’re happy and they’re happy, and that’s what we’re here for.”