River City FOP logo

A wooden sign with the logo of River City FOP Lodge 614, which represents almost all Louisville Metro Police officers. (WDRB file photo) 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police officers and supervisors will receive pay increases and guaranteed raises under tentative contract deals reached Friday between Mayor Greg Fischer and the head of the local police union.

In addition, the collective bargaining agreements have significant reforms and more oversight within the department, including retaining past findings of officer misconduct, enhanced discipline and mandatory alcohol and drug testing after "critical" incidents, such as shootings.

The department has been heavily scrutinized and criticized since the March 13, 2020 fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor and the death of businessman David McAtee during city-wide protests against police months later.

"These changes align the police department with the best practices of reform-minded police forces across the country," Fischer said in a statement.

The agreements still need the approval of members of the River City Fraternal Order of Police lodge and the Metro Council. They would then go to Fischer for the final sign-off.

At issue are a contract for officers and sergeants that the council extended last fall after the union and Fischer approved it; and a contract for lieutenants that expired in 2018.

The mayor's office said the full proposals will be made public after they are sent to union members in the coming days. The FOP is expected to vote the week of Sept. 6, according to a news release.

FOP President Ryan Nichols said the tentative contracts will help the department recruit "the most qualified candidates and retain our outstanding officers."

The salary increases are an effort to retain and bring new and more experienced officers to the department. Chief Erica Shields has said LMPD should have about 1,300 officers but is around 250 short of what the department is authorized to have.

New officers now make about $49,500. By the July 2023, officers' salaries will range from $51,000 to nearly $79,000 -- for an officer at the end of his or her career.

And salaries for sergeants and lieutenants will also climb. Sergeants' salaries will be between $78,700 and $93,500 in the 2023 fiscal year, while lieutenants' salaries will be $98,000 to $123,100.

In particular, the contract would mandate that all union members get raises every two years. In an example provided by Fischer's office, a new recruit who joins now could make roughly $65,000 within two years.

"With the challenges we face on gun violence and staffing, our city needs highly motivated officers, and the competitive salary pieces of this contract will help us achieve that," Shields said.

Fischer said his administration's goal was to ensure "that we have a pay scale that allows us to recruit and retain the most talented people possible, while also making reforms to further trust between the police and the community they serve."

"My hope is that the men and women of LMPD see this as an investment in them, that those considering law enforcement see it as an invitation to a fulfilling career, and that our residents see it as evidence of our commitment to bring major reformative changes to address accountability and community trust," he said.

Along with reforms outlined in the tentative contract, the announcement noted LMPD has already changed its policies on handling search warrants and seizures, resumed random drug testing and started a practice of completing internal investigations even if an officer leaves the department while the investigation is ongoing. The department also has implemented required training to internal affairs investigators.

Fischer said the reforms show "that we've heard and are responding to calls in the community for greater accountability and transparency. Together we've taken a contract that hasn't been significantly changed in decades and re-worked it to realize our goal of having the best police department in the nation."

A report by consultant Hilliard Heintze -- ordered by Fischer in 2020 and released earlier this year -- noted that officers are leaving LMPD for other departments because of higher pay.

The contract for officers and sergeants approved by the Metro Council last year included pay raises and a $5,000 housing incentive for police officers who live in areas they patrol. That provision was included in the city's settlement with Taylor's family.

This story will be updated.

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