Golden Valley has approved new contracts for its police patrol officers union and community service officers, including a 3% raise for patrol officers in 2024.
Talks between Golden Valley and the unions that represent police in the city have come as the department deals with ongoing high turnover and the fallout from an external investigator's report that found officers resistant to anti-racism training and unconcerned with racism, as well as violations of state data privacy laws.
"We are here to support our Police Department in any way possible, and this contract reflects that," Mayor Shep Harris said during Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Harris said he thought the raises, along with a decade of year-over-year increases in police budgets — for salaries, vehicles and equipment — should counter the idea that the mayor and council do not support the police, which was a major issue in the 2021 city elections.
"This is just another example of our support," Harris said.
Under the new contract, Golden Valley officers' base wages in 2023 will be between $36.39 and $48.48 per hour based on years served, with a 3% raise in 2024 to a range between $37.48 and $49.93 hourly. Officers who participate in "restorative practices" training will receive a one-time $500 bonus, and those who volunteer to serve at least a year on the city's Police Employment, Accountability and Community Engagement Commission will receive another $50 per month. The commission's civilian leaders have expressed frustration about little police participation in the group.
The Golden Valley Police Department has struggled with high turnover — especially high since 2020 — that has left the department with fewer officers.
Last week, with the police force down to 17 of a budgeted 31 officers, Chief Virgil Green said he was looking at bottlenecks in the hiring process and leaning on help from surrounding cities and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office to police Golden Valley.
Golden Valley has also started offering $10,000 signing bonuses to "lateral transfers," who have already been through the police academy with another department.