Topeka Police Union At Odds With City Over Officer Pay, Department Improvements

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – A mediator will be called in to help negotiate more pay and more officers in a new contract between the City of Topeka and the Topeka Police Department’s Union.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 says contract negotiations with the City of Topeka came to a stalemate on June 9. It said the two organizations began to meet in February and were scheduled to end negotiations on May 27. While the Union said it agreed to extend negotiations through June 9, not all issues were resolved. With no agreement in place, it said it and the City will make the next steps towards mediation.

According to FOP Lodge #3, Topeka’s Police Union, the department faces an alarming staff shortage with an unusually high number of resignations and retirements. Despite innovative recruiting efforts, it said TPD has only been able to fill half of the seats at its most recent police academy.

“Police departments across the nation are facing staff shortages at record levels,” said Charles Wilson President of FOP Lodge #3, “Topeka is not alone on this issue and we are recruiting from the same applicant pool as other comparable cities and counties. We must maintain a competitive wage compensation package to recruit, hire and retain qualified police officers to protect our citizens and the community.”

In August of 2020, the Union said the Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships Council has worked with the residents of Topeka to create a robust community survey created by the U.S. Department of Justice. It said the results found the top five areas TPD needs to improve are as follows:

  1. Community policing
  2. Paying higher wages
  3. More officers
  4. Faster response times
  5. Proactive policing/Specialized units

“TPD’s current staffing levels often prevents officers from filling basic patrol territories and that should be a concern of the community,” said Matt Blassingame, Chief Union Steward for the FOP, “and it is very difficult to implement the recommendations of the SPCP when we cannot recruit, hire and retain good officers.”

According to the Union, both Wilson and Blassingame agree that the residents of Topeka and the FOP want a well-trained, well-staffed and fairly compensated Topeka Police Department.

From www.wibw.com