FILE - Kentucky hotel

View of Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

(The Center Square) - Louisville Metro Government and the labor union representing police officers in Kentucky’s largest city reached an agreement Tuesday on a short-term extension to the collective bargaining agreement.  

The six-month deal pushes the contract’s end date to June 30. In addition, the city and the River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614 agree to begin talks on a new, long-term contract no later than Jan. 31. 

The Louisville Metro Council will take up the extension at its meeting Thursday. 

In a statement announcing the extension, Mayor Greg Fischer said the agreement includes salary increases and benefit changes designed to improve retention and recruitment efforts. 

Starting officers in the Louisville Metro Police Department will now make nearly $45,500, with the raise retroactive to July 1. That’s up from the nearly $39,190 salary rookie officers have received since 2017. Officers are still guaranteed increases as they accrue tenure on the force. 

“The loss of good officers, who can mentor our young officers, and the difficulty we have attracting a diverse pool of applicants are pressing issues that we needed to address to maintain public safety,” the mayor said. 

FOP President Ryan Nichols told WAVE-TV that the salary schedule still isn’t where it should be but it’s a move in the right direction.  (https://www.wave3.com/2020/10/06/city-louisville-fop-strike-deal-benefitting-officers/)

The deal comes at a time of great scrutiny on the force and Fischer.  

Louisville Metro Police has been heavily criticized for its handling of the Breonna Taylor case, in which a 26-year-old unarmed Black woman was shot to death in her apartment as officers tried to execute a search warrant tied to a narcotics investigation. 

The city reached a $12 million settlement with Taylor’s family last month. In addition to the historic financial settlement, the city agreed to pursue changes in law enforcement policies and procedures, some of which will need to be negotiated with the FOP in the next CBA. 

“Between now and June 2021, we will have completed the top-to-bottom review of the Louisville Metro Police Department and hired a new chief,” Fischer said. “These are two important steps where we are actively seeking  community input. In addition, because some elements of police reform will require changes in state law, we are asking the community to help us  work with the general assembly to act on those when its next legislative session begins in January.” 

Delivering a new CBA was one of the requirements Democratic-majority Metro Council called on Fischer, also a Democrat, to accomplish when it overwhelmingly passed a no-confidence resolution against him three weeks ago.  

Fischer delivered on another requirement Wednesday when LMPD released the department’s internal files related to the Taylor case and its aftermath. 

Councilmember Anthony Piagentini, a Republican who helped push for the no-confidence vote, tweeted his support for both measures Wednesday. 

“Another huge step forward for transparency,” he tweeted about the release of the internal files. “The public has the ability to see the truth about this tragic event.”