Langley agrees to new three-year contract with police union

LANGLEY — The city’s rank-and-file police officers will get a pay raise under a new contract approved by the Langley City Council on Monday.

The three-year labor contract is the first-ever for the Langley Police Services Guild, the union that was formed by Langley officers in 2010.

Council members also unanimously approved the wage scale for police officers under the city’s new compensation program for its employees. Mayor Larry Kwarsick said officers’ pay would be based on how good they are at their jobs, and not how long they’ve been working for the city.

“We have a performance based-compensation program. We do not have a longevity-based compensation program,” Kwarsick said.

If layoffs ever come, he added, they will be based primarily on performance.

The 13-page contract covers issues such as work hours, vacations and call-back time, equipment, fringe benefits, disciplinary investigations and lie detector tests, and officers’ rights when they are involved in the use of deadly force.

“I think one of the fundamental things about this proposed contract is it recognizes the uniqueness of being a uniformed police officer,” Kwarsick said.

“All the things that are associated with being a law enforcement officer in a small town I think have been embraced in this proposed agreement,” he said.

Negotiations on the agreement have stretched for more than a year. Councilmen Bruce Allen and Doug Allderdice participated in the most recent round of talks that led to an agreement.

Officers will make between $24 to $28.70 an hour. City officials said the pay is competitive with other police agencies in the region, and the agreement should help the city retain its officers.

Police Chief Randy Heston praised the passage of the agreement, and said it was a long time coming. Work on the contract started under former Mayor Paul Samuelson, he noted.

“It’s been a long, drawn-out process. And at times, with the last mayor, we were just fighting over little things,” Heston said.

Heston noted the agreement also includes a pay raise for officers, including the city’s reserve forces. The added pay may help the city avoid being a stepping stone for experienced officers who leave for higher-paying departments elsewhere.

“Now they got a pay raise, and now they will want to stay longer,” Heston said.

The contract runs through Dec. 31, 2014.

City Clerk-Treasurer Debbie Mahler said the city’s police officers last received a raise in 2009, and the pay increase in the new contract is roughly 2 percent.