Reluctantly, Denver City Council approve raises for police officers

Reluctantly, Denver City Council cemented a raise for police Monday night by approving a controversial union contract for about 1,450 officers.

But not before a few lambasted Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration.

The agreement — approved on a 10-3 margin — came from an arbitrator after council denied the originally proposed contract in September. At the time, opposing council members said they were uncomfortable giving police raises while other city employees face unpaid furloughs, especially following the unrest stemming from the George Floyd protests this summer.

In addition, council members recalled that their representative had been left out of the first days of negotiations. Administration officials called that an accidental omission, but the move clearly damaged the trust between them and the city’s legislative body.

After that rejection, an arbitrator ruled that the Denver Police Protective Association should receive a 2% raise on Jan. 1, 2022, and another 1.5% raise on July 1, 2022. Officers won’t receive a raise next year and will forfeit holiday pay and some retiree benefits as well.

The arbitrator’s ruling was binding, a representative from the city attorney’s office told council members Monday night. To vote it down would be to expose the city to possible litigation.

Although she voted to approve the contract — albeit after a long sigh — Councilwoman Robin Kniech called the negotiations a perversion of the city’s charter.

“I’m voting for this tonight because of the legal consequences that will occur but I could not remain silent in what I consider to be a bad-faith outcome between the branches of government that requires rectifying,” Kniech said.

Council President Stacie Gilmore also acknowledged that the negotiations started off on the wrong foot and more work is needed to “make sure this never happens again to another City Council.”

Ultimately, Gilmore voted for the agreement. Council members Candi CdeBaca, Chris Hinds and Amanda Sawyer did not, however.

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