Harrisburg police contract a win for recovery plan

A tentative agreement between Harrisburg's police union and the receiver's office has some residents worried that seasoned officers will opt to leave.

The union ratified a contract on Wednesday that includes a two-year pay freeze as well as a serious spike in health care contribution costs. It appears that in return for the sacrifice, officers will no longer be required to live in the city.

City resident Yesmin Farzana likes knowing officers currently call Harrisburg home.

“If they are in the city, that's even better – I think not only for them but for the people who live in the city,” Farzana said.

She also understands why some would opt to work elsewhere, with the anticipated health care spike. Call it another drop in the bucket for Farzana and her husband, who both say city crime is why they are looking for a new place to live.

“I would just like to go somewhere more peaceful,” Farzana said.

City and union leaders say the contract will help residents and public safety. Officers are willing to bear the burden in exchange for having the option to live elsewhere. For some, that means a healthy separation from work and personal life; something that is common in other departments.

“Police have been willing to step forward and make those changes so we can move forward in terms of our recovery process,” councilwoman and public safety chair Eugenia Smith said.

“Absolutely a good thing, absolutely positive, good for the police, good for the city, good for the fiscal recovery plan,” COO and chief of staff Bob Philbin said.

Harrisburg police have lost 40 officers since 2010. The force currently consists of nearly 130. Union leaders see the contract as a positive.

“Officers stepped up and did their part. Hopefully, it will help the city's stability and help the department, ” Jason Brinker, president of Harrisburg's Fraternal Order of Police said.

 

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