ROCKVILLE- With less than one week until the final budget is approved, the fight to bring Rockville City Police an overdue stepped-pay raise has gone viral. A national petition on Change.org has yielded more than 500 signatures in support of the pay raises from citizens as far as Florida.
And while the Rockville police chief said he cannot discuss budget and personnel issues, he said he definitely supports his officers.
At Monday’s city council meeting Rockville citizens voiced their complaints about the lack of support for the police from others in city government, including city management staff and the city council.
“I was here one night and you guys were talking about budgets and you said ‘we found $4 million in the budget.’ Obviously you have money to give them a raise. After four years my guys would all quit and find a new job,”
Mayor Bridgett Donnell Newton said the city is negotiating with the police and the FOP Lodge 117 but also declined to elaborate on the exact nature of the negotiations.
“My personal concern is that the proposed lump sum payment is not a substitute and we are then forcing our staff to come back next year asking for what they got the year prior. It becomes the distraction, the elephant in the room. It’s unproductive and does nothing to build trust,” Newton said.
May 11-May 17 was declared National Police Week in Rockville but Rockville police and their supporters said with no action to include pay raises in the budget, the proclamation simply isn’t enough.
Rockville resident Jennifer Kaye said she supports the police cause. At the council meeting, Kaye read comments from signees of the Fraternal Order of Police 117’s online petition. Kaye said Councilwoman Julie Palakovich Carr declined to discuss the matter at a recent event, saying she was advised not to speak about it.
Rockville spokeswoman Marylou Berg said the council and mayor are legally prohibited from discussing matters related to collective bargaining, labor relations, and negotiations.
“A proclamation recognizing the fine women of the police department is so wonderful for public perception but it’s only worth the paper that it’s written on. It doesn’t pay bills, it doesn’t create goodwill at the force, it doesn’t make the job less dangerous and it doesn’t improve the already low moral of our first responders,” Kaye said.
During the budget session, the council approved the use of more than $111,000 for the purchase of a new archival system, $10,000 for the new science center, $5,000 for a water conservation pilot and $26,000 for various caregiver grants.
All Rockville City employees will receive a 2 percent cost of living increase but police will now have gone without a stepped-raise increase for the last five years. City Police Chief Terry Treschuk said he is not involved in the ongoing negotiation and can’t comment on the negotiations but that he supports his officers.
“I’ve always tried to provide the best I can possibly do for the officers. I think it’s important that we have the great equipment, the right training, and the right work environment. Certainly part of that is the ability to be able to hire and train them properly and retain the officers for a long time. I think that’s extraordinarily important,” Treschuk said.
The online petition for the Rockville police can be found at: https://www.change.org/petitions/rockville-mayor-and-council-give-rockville-city-police-dept-promised-pay-raise-and-back-pay