A Look at the New Contract for Boston's Largest Police Union

Dec. 5, 2023
Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association members approved its new contract, signing off on the changes to the department’s disciplinary policy, as well as pay raises and other changes.

The largest union representing Boston police officers has agreed to a new contract with the city, including a first-time provision that could make it easier to dismiss any officer facing certain serious criminal charges.

Members of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association approved the new contract Monday night, signing off on the changes to the department’s disciplinary policy, as well as cost of living pay raises, adjustments to medical leave and other changes, officials said.

While past contracts focused primarily on officer compensation, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said this was the first collective bargaining agreement with the police union to include major changes to departmental operations.

Wu said the contract was “unlike any other the city has ever reached with our law enforcement personnel.”

The agreement comes more than three years after the last contract between the city and the union expired. This contract, which would be valid into 2025, now heads to the Boston City Council for approval.

Here is what is in the deal.

Officer discipline

The contract lays out more than two dozen criminal offenses that could lead to an officer’s termination without the possibility of arbitration, a process that can often reduce or overturn an officer’s punishment.

Among the listed offenses are drug trafficking, rape, hate crimes and murder. A sustained complaint by the department’s Internal Affairs office or a criminal indictment for one of the offenses would cost an officer their right to challenge any discipline through arbitration.

“There should be no loophole for those who commit grave criminal acts to wear a badge,” Wu said Tuesday.

Not many police departments have similar limits on disciplinary arbitration, Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox said.

“This is an exceptional start to make sure that people that are fired stay fired,” Cox said.

Larry Calderone, the president of the union, called the disciplinary changes a “no-brainer.”

“This is a contract that is fair and equitable to the men and women in uniform that are answering those calls for service,” Calderone said Tuesday. “At the same time, we helped policing evolve. I know the famous word out there is ‘reform.’ But I like to look at it as police evolving. We are bringing policing into the future.”

The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association represents about 70% of Boston police officers.

Medical leave

More than 10% of Boston police patrol officers had been on medical leave for more than a year when contract negotiations began, city officials said. With a shorthanded staff, the police department turned to required overtime to cover shifts.

The new contract will change the arbitration process for officers on extended medical leave. When there is a disagreement on an officer’s ability to return to work, an independent medical examiner will now determine whether the officer can return for light duty.

Paid detail work

Boston police officers were previously the only employees eligible to work paid details for major public events, roadway construction and other projects that disrupt traffic. But more than 40% of shifts on details go unfilled, and high-priority details are covered through forced overtime, according to the mayor’s office.

A wider pool of public employees will now be eligible to fill those details’ shifts. If a detail goes unfilled by Boston police officers, then retired officers, university police officers and other public safety personnel will be able to fill in.

The contract also included organizational changes officials said would modernize the process of filling police details.

Cost of living, educational incentives and other changes

The contract included pay raises of 1% to 2.5% dating back to 2020 and extending until next summer.

Police officers will now also have more universities and programs to choose from if they pursue a college degree, which can lead to a salary boost.

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