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New Lincoln police contract aimed at attracting, retaining experienced officers, chief says

New Lincoln police contract aimed at attracting, retaining experienced officers, chief says

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Wages for Lincoln police officers will rise by 3.25% annually over the next three years under an agreement between the police union and the city of Lincoln.

The contract also features beefed-up longevity payments and increased incentive pay for officers working afternoon and overnight shifts during the second and third years of the contract, which runs through August 2022.

First-year officers in the department would be paid $55,700 under the agreement, which will be the subject of a public hearing before the City Council on Monday.

The raises follow similar pay increases included in the Lincoln Police Union's previous collective bargaining agreement and follow pay raises approved for most city workers in August. 

The contract comes as the police department seeks to fill its ranks with a first-ever class of men and women who've already worked as police officers in Nebraska. 

"I do think the compensation package as a whole will be valuable to both recruitment and retainment," Chief Jeff Bliemeister said.

Wages and benefits are often the key to landing experienced officers who have expressed interest in working for Lincoln police, the chief said.

"Much more of that (appeal) is contained with events like Trunk-or-Treat (last week) or the community policing principles that we apply," he said.

Lincoln Police Union President Chris Milisits didn't respond to requests for comment.

In the last few years, the Omaha Police Department has brought in classes of experienced Nebraska officers to help it grow toward an overall force of 900 officers. About a dozen Lincoln police officers were hired away by the state's largest police department during that time.

Bliemeister said his department is seeking its first class of experienced, Nebraska-certified officers as part of its goal to recruit and retain high-quality employees. 

Recent hires of a University of Nebraska-Lincoln officer and an experienced officer who had been working in the private sector gave the chief confidence this recruit class could be successful, he said. 

The department is authorized to have 353 officers, and the class would begin a condensed training schedule in January, when the 22-week police academy for first-time officers also starts, Bliemeister said. 

Department staff won't know how many experienced officers they can take until the application window closes in December. 

Interested officers must have at least a year of continuous Nebraska law enforcement experience. They can apply at JoinLPD.com or call Sgt. Brad Junker at 402-441-7240.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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