Philly Police Get a Raise, and a Rebuke

Arbitrator gives officers a financial boost, but decries "unprecedented wave" of corruption.

Philadelphia’s police officers are getting a raise for the next three years — but they’re also getting a rebuke for the “unprecedented wave” of corruption cases against officers in recent years.

Mayor Michael Nutter, Commissioner Charles Ramsey and FOP President Tom McNesby made the announcement at an 11 a.m. news conference.

And the city got a big concession in its contract with the union: It will now be able to transfer members out of the department’s narcotics unit who have served in that unit for at least five years. Commissioner Ramsey had previously sought that power, saying that “bad habits” had spurred some recent high-profile cases of corruption.

That split decision was handed down by an arbitration panel that, as in previous contracts between police and the city, helped resolve and finalize outstanding issues between the two parties. The contract lasts three years; officers will receive a 3 percent raise the first year (retroactive to July 1st of this year) and 3.25 percent raises in 2015 and 2016.

But the arbitration panel — which finalized its conclusions on Wednesday, the same day that federal corruption charges were announced against six Philly officers — decried rampant corruption within the department as well.

“The Panel also shares the concerns of the Commissioner and the Mayor that some reforms are needed that will root out corruption and misconduct by a small number of officers within the Department that have tarnished the Department’s reputation with an unprecedented wave of criminal arrests and convictions for on- and off-duty activities, including a significant number relating to narcotics,” the panel said in its findings. “There is simply no place for criminal conduct within this great Department and the conduct of these officers does a great disservice to the heroic men and women of the department.”

The panel added, two paragraphs later, that it “recognizes and reaffirms that any such reforms must be structured in such a fashion as to avoid painting the entire Department with a broad brush of corruption and to be applied in a nondiscriminatory, even-handed manner.”

The new policy involving the narcotics unit doesn’t give Commissioner Ramsey unlimited power to make transfers. Officers transferred out of the bureau against their will will be given a preference for reassignment — letting them choose what they consider the best open positions available elsewhere in the department. And those transfers will not exceed more than 20 percent of the Narcotics Bureau in any given year.

The full arbitration ruling is below: