Fayette County

Police ask wider latitude on cruisers

Lexington police officers who live in one of the six counties adjacent to Fayette County will be allowed to drive their police cruisers home, according to a proposed collective bargaining contract between the city and its police officers.

Permission to drive their cruisers beyond the county line was the third most requested item officers wanted in the new contract, said Mike Sweeney, president of Bluegrass Lodge No. 4 of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Officers will reimburse the city for each mile they drive beyond the Fayette County line, Sweeney said.

The additional driving privilege is just one of the changes in the proposed three-year collective bargaining contract that, if approved, would run until June 30, 2011. Officers are working under an expired contract that ended March 31.

The new police contract requires two official council readings for final approval. First reading is scheduled for Thursday. Final approval could come Oct. 2.

The police membership ratified the contract on Aug. 29 by an 83 percent vote.

Other contract details include:

■ A $1,300 raise per officer in the first year of the contract. The raise averages out to a 2.3 percent increase, which is equal to the raise that the city's non-sworn employees received. Officers will get a 2.75 percent raise in the second year of the contract and 3 percent in the third year.

■ Applicants for a promotion to lieutenant must have a bachelor's degree.

■ Officers will receive court pay if they are required to meet with attorneys or perform work directed by attorneys outside of regularly scheduled work hours.

■ An increase in tuition reimbursement from $1,200 a year to $1,500 a year.

■ City life insurance on officers increased from $10,000 to $25,000.

■ The city will not use covert electronic surveillance equipment while investigating an officer, with the exception of a formal administrative complaint or a criminal investigation.

"In light of the economic times we have right now, I think we got the best contract that we possibly could," Sweeney said. "Was it as good as we wanted? No, but we got some concessions. Increase in uniform allowance. Increase in education incentive. But it could have been better."

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