Staten Island Advance
updated January 31, 2017 at 7:14 PM

Patrol cops to wear body cameras by 2019 under tentative labor deal

By Anna Sanders

CITY HALL -- All patrol officers will wear body cameras by 2019 as part of a tentative contract agreement reached on Tuesday with the union representing roughly 24,000 cops. 

The deal between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association includes yearly salary increases retroactive to when the union's last contract expired in 2012. 

The agreement ends years of protests and negotiations between de Blasio and the PBA, a frequent critic of the administration. The union has gone without a contract for five years and entered binding arbitration in the past.

"Collective bargaining took time, but collective bargaining worked," de Blasio said. 

The new contract would expire after July if ratified by the PBA, which represents about 3,500 Staten Island cops. 

Police officers would get 11.73 percent in raises over five years, not including two-year arbitration awards of 1 percent each, officials said. 

"New York City police officers are no better than anyone else, but we are different," PBA President Pat Lynch said. "We perform the most difficult police job anywhere in the world, and the challenges and dangers we face each day continue to grow. The agreement that we announce here today recognizes those challenges and continues to move New York City police officers towards a package of compensation and benefits that is equal to our status as the finest police officers in the nation."

Wage increases would constitute 11 percent over seven years when combined with the arbitration awards, which is consistent with deals the city reached with other municipal unions under de Blasio. 

But police officers will also get an extra 2.25 percent raise. 

Officials said that additional differential compensates for a restructuring of the NYPD under the new neighborhood policing program, which will eventually be rolled out to all precincts. 

Still, the "neighborhood policing differential" will be given to all officers, regardless of whether or not they are participating in the program. 

"With body cameras, we're clearly asking officers to learn a new way of doing the work and to adjust to a technology and level of transparency they have not experienced before," de Blasio said. "Rather than a long, contentious fight over these issues, we found common ground."

That extra raise is covered by a reduction in salaries for newly hired police officers. 

Right now, new police officers make $42,819 annually in their first year and a half on the job. Salary then increases annually, to $78,028 after five and a half years. 

Under the tentative deal, new police officers would make $42,500 annually in their first year and a half on the job. This increases increases annually to $85,292 after five and a half years on the job. 

That new salary schedule would only apply to officers hired after March 15, should the deal be approved by the union. 

The tentative agreement will cost a total $1.88 billion through fiscal year 2021, but the city identified $577.1 million in savings. 

The union also agreed to drop body camera litigation against the city as part of the deal.

The NYPD's body camera pilot program now includes 1,000 cameras across 20 precincts. Five thousand more will be deployed by July 2018 and all officers would have them by 2019.

The PBA will also withdraw and refrain from lawsuits related to the administration of naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. 

The union will join the city in supporting state legislation that would provide three-quarter of salary when officers are out on disability. The pension benefit would include a 1 percent employee contribution.