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) -- River City FOP said Monday that its members "soundly" voted down a tentative contract agreement for Louisville's police officers and sergeants.

The tentative agreement included 9% raises in 2022 and 3% raises in 2023. In a a statement, the FOP said officers and sergeants felt the contract "would not do enough to stop our constant loss of officers and would not adequately increase Metro's ability to recruit the best talent available to the LMPD.

"The members listened to their chief say that the LMPD should be the highest paid police department in the state," the statement read. "This proposed agreement does not accomplish that goal. They listened to the Metro Council President say that there was more money available to realize these goals."

The contract also included:

  • Mandatory critical incident drug and alcohol testing
  • 8.21% raises for lieutenants, the same raise officers and sergeants received in December 2020
  • New residency stipend of $5,000 for qualified areas

New officers now make about $45,000. Under the new contract, by July 2023, officers' salaries would range from $51,000 to nearly $79,000 for an officer at the end of his or her career. To see the full synopsis of the contract, provided by the city, click here.

The salary increases were 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.

Louisville's Labor and Economic Development Committee held a second public hearing on the contracts Monday afternoon. The vast majority of the near 40 speakers were against both contracts.

"These contracts don't present enough positive change for my friends, family and fellow citizens of our Black communities," Amira Bryant said. "These contracts still fail to present a serious challenge to officer misconduct, corruption and abuse of the community with which LMPD is tasked with serving." 

"If the police want more money, then they need to acquiesce more accountability in their employment contract," Taylor U'Sellis added.

"Why should adults be getting paid more for bad behavior, like beating innocent people?" asked 14-year-old student Malachi Ibnmohammad.

At least one speaker, Thomas Zoeller, supported the contracts. Multiple people in the crowd also held signs in favor of the FOP and officers.

"It's high time we get back to appreciating those in law enforcement, recognizing the toll this responsibility takes on them, and encouraging the job they do for us with better benefits and improved public support and cooperation," Zoeller said.

After the meeting, Metro Council President David James said that despite the city offering the FOP its largest single-year contract, the offer still was not competitive with other agencies, adding that officers deserved to be paid more.

"Shively, St. Matthews, J-town, Nashville, Indianapolis -- all surrounding police departments are paying much more than we are," said James. "This is a market-driven situation. It's pretty simple. This isn't rocket science."

In a statement Monday afternoon, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called the FOP member vote against the officer and sergeant's contract agreement a "setback." Also arguing the public hearings held before a final vote showed a "lack of respect" for union members. 

"A major goal of my administration is to make our salaries competitive to attract and retain the best officers in the region; this proposal was a major step toward that. Officers deserved the most accurate and unbiased information as they considered what was in their and the community’s best interest. However, actions by two Council members contributed to misinformation about and mistrust in the proposal: Metro Council President David James, without seeing the proposal, told the media that there was more money in the budget for these raises than there actually was; approximately two weeks later he said it was probably the best FOP contract he had seen in over 30 years. Ironically, these comments came after Metro Council had refused to fully fund public safety wages in the budget proposal put forward by Mayor Fischer in April. Next, Labor and Economic Development Committee Chair Keisha Dorsey took public comment on a tentative contract prior to giving the union an opportunity to vote. This fundamental lack of respect for union members to vote free from outside pressures set back good faith efforts. While Council would have had the opportunity to take public comment and vote on the contract once it was approved by FOP members, trying to influence the contract prior to FOP approval was inappropriate and detrimental to the process.

For now, we will take some time to hear police and community input. I remain committed to working with the FOP to produce an agreement within the resources we have that works for both our hardworking LMPD officers, as well as the community they serve. I urge FOP members, community partners and fellow elected officials to set aside politics and be a constructive part of the solution as we move forward."

Conversely, the FOP said a tentative agreement for captains and lieutenants was overwhelmingly approved. Lieutenants' salaries would be $98,000 to $123,100 under that agreement, which now moves forward to Metro Council.

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