EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 21, 2014

Top cops, chief get pay raise

New contract allows city to drug test officers

HAVERHILL — Twenty senior officers and the police chief are getting 10.25 percent pay raises in a new contract.

In exchange for the raises, the police superior officers agreed to let the city test them for illegal drugs — a provision that Mayor James Fiorentini said he will push for in future contract talks with Haverhill’s patrolmen and firefighters.

The superior officers are the first public safety group to agree to let the city test their blood for illegal drugs, including marijuana and steroids.

The top cops also agreed to let the city install GPS tracking devices in their vehicles, something the department’s patrolmen recently agreed to.

City Council approved the superior officers’ contract swiftly and unanimously Tuesday night without debate or comment.

The superior officers’ new contract covers four years from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2016. The pact includes pay raises of 5.5 percent over that span.

It also includes another 4.75 percent in retroactive pay increases to make up for larger pay hikes given recently to police patrolmen and firefighters. The city gave the larger pay increases to resolve contract disputes with unions representing those workers.

City officials said the city likely would have had to at least match monetary awards given to the patrolmen and firefighters had negotiations with the superior officers gone to arbitration, which were scheduled earlier this month but cancelled as a result of the contract agreement.

According to the drug-testing provision, the city has the right to test new officers shortly after they are hired and any officer the city has “reasonable suspicion” to believe reported to work under the influence of an illegal drug or used an illegal drug in the recent past.

The city may also test any officer involved in a job-related accident that includes an unsafe practice or violation of a safety rule that resulted in serious injury or property damage, the contract says.

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