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Santa Fe police union approves new contract

SANTA FE – Santa Fe’s police union has ratified a new contract with city government that targets the biggest pay increases at officers in the early years of their careers.

The contract, which adds $930,000 in new spending for officer wages and benefits, bumps up the pay rate for officers in their first four years of service by about 30 percent, to $22 an hour ($45,760 annually) for years one and two and to $25/hour ($52,000 annually) in years three and four.

That’s still less than the $29/hour paid by that the Albuquerque Police Department — which has been drawing officers away from Santa Fe and other New Mexico cities — during that career period.

But if the City Council approves the contract, as expected, Santa Fe would match APD’s $30/hour rate starting in year five and afterward, thanks to an 11 percent raise in that category. Sergeants and detectives get smaller increases.

“Our goal is to make the City of Santa Fe the employer of choice for talented officers who want to make a difference through their work in our community,” Mayor Alan Webber said in a news release.

“This contract is another big step in getting that done. I’m very grateful to the union leadership and the members for such an overwhelming vote.’

Det. Tony Trujillo, head of the Santa Fe Police Officers Association, said officers were pleased with the new contract.

He also said officers appreciate Webber’s efforts “to make this happen,” after what he described as 12 years of stagnation on police pay in Santa Fe, and described the raises as “a good first step” that should help with retention and recruiting of officers.

“We never expected to catch up to Albuquerque,” Trujillo said.

“We want this to continue every year rather than falling into a rut,” he added.

Earlier this year, the city issued $6,000 retention bonuses to police officers who agreed to stayed with the Santa Fe Police Department pending negotiation of the new contract. “I want to personally thank the officers that stuck with us during this time,” said Police Chief Andrew Padilla in the news release.

The new contract puts police pay in line with recommendations of a study comparing Santa Fe city employee pay with other cities, according to the mayor’s announcement.

Civilian SFPD employees also are getting the raises. The biggest are 23 percent, to $18.61/hour, for public safety aides, and 17 percent, to $17.72/hour, for animal services officers.