One of the perks of running for City Council is the opportunity to meet with various constituent groups. We often talk about how well the City of Fort Collins is working for them and how I might be able to help if elected. I recently met with the Fraternal Order of Police and it turns out that we share some of the same concerns about City Council.
I met with Chris Renn of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) at the Old Town Library to discuss the relationship between the FOP and City leadership. The FOP is the local police officer’s union and lobbyist for police officer issues.
They are working to get City Council to add a conflict resolution clause in their compensation contract negotiations. Through conflict resolution an independent arbitrator settles irreconcilable differences. If the arbitration is rejected, then the question can go to Fort Collins voters to decide. Conflict resolution is the norm in negotiating public contracts. Poudre Fire Department has conflict resolution with the City. By not having conflict resolution with the police, the City maintains an unfair negotiating advantage.
Chris said that, in individual conversations, the City Council members support conflict resolution but they can’t seem to get it done. I experience this all the time working with City Council. A Councilperson will claim to be a champion of an idea but go silent in the face of complication or adversity. If Council can’t address the issue, then the FOP will have to go out and get voter signatures to put conflict resolution on the ballot. That would put the City at odds with the police in a very public way that would rightfully undermine confidence in the City Council.
If we don’t appropriately value our Police Services then we run the risk of losing the ability to attract and retain good police officers. That’s when people get hurt. And that’s when the City gets sued. In the end it is cheaper and more effective to fairly negotiate from the beginning.
I support the FOP’s efforts to get conflict resolution in negotiations. I support their work (and others’) to reduce violent police encounters, and to protect the officers and the public while the police do their job of protecting us all.