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St. Clair Shores

Police command contract approved by council

August 20, 2014

ST. CLAIR SHORES — The biggest change in a new three-year agreement with command officers in the St. Clair Shores Police Department is the ability for the city manager to consider both internal and external candidates in an assessment center review for the position of police chief.

With the new agreement, inside and outside candidates will compete in an assessment center. Internal candidates will be awarded points for each year of service to the St. Clair Shores Police Department to be added to their total — 20 years would receive 2.5 points — and the city manager will be able to choose between the top three scorers.

Interim City Manager Mike Smith said this has nothing to do with the current Police Chief, Todd Woodcox, but would affect his successor.

“We’re under Act 78, so this had to be negotiated out,” said Mayor Kip Walby.

Act 78 of 1934 limited the city to only hiring from inside the department for a police chief. The Fire Department had previously agreed to a change in their contract allowing internal and external candidates to compete; this would do the same for the Police Department, Smith said.

“It will drive our internal candidates not only to beat their peers,” but others outside the department, he said. “This will provide an additional incentive.”

If the next chief of police comes from inside the department, that person would be able to received a post-employment defined benefit plan; an external candidate would be moved to a defined contribution plan.

The new command officer contract, which covers 2014-16, also provides a 2 percent wage increase in each of those three years, increases the number of days to answer grievances from five to 10, eliminates double-time pay for working special events in the city — officers would still receive regular overtime pay for those times — and increases the distance command officers may live from the city from 25 to 35 miles, bringing it in line with the requirements for patrol officers.

The cost to the city of the wage increase is $164,467, but a change to the health insurance offered to those officers, instituting a “hard cap” that is currently received by all nonsworn personnel in the department, will conservatively save $204,000 over the course of the contract, Smith said, making it a savings of $40,000 to the city even with the increased wages.

“Our employees will all become much better healthcare consumers,” Smith said. “We’ve seen substantial savings. I think we’ll meet or exceed our healthcare savings for our nonsworn folks and for our sworn folks in the future.”

City Council unanimously approved the contract Aug. 4.

About the author

Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske covers St. Clair Shores and the Lake Shore, Lakeview and South Lake public schools for the Sentinel. Kristyne has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2004 and attended Michigan State University and Chippewa Valley High School.

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