Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A new-look Lockport Police Department started Friday with new shifts and a reorganization while the city Fire Department will have make do with seven fewer firefighters.
The city’s 2014 budget features the cutting of 16 positions total. Four positions were cut in the police department, but layoffs were avoided with four retirements and restructuring of the department.
To help ease the city’s financial pain, the city reached a new contract with the Hickory Club Police Benevolent Association, the police union. The deal is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013 and freezes police pay through 2016. The officers will receive 1.5 percent raises in January and July 2017 and in January and July 2018.
Police Chief Larry Eggert said LPD patrol will be divided into four squads instead of three, while changing from three eight-hour shifts per day to two 12-hour shifts. Police will work fewer days, but more hours per day.
That change started Friday, a day after five were promoted to patrol lieutenants, meeting the need for more squad commanders. Eggert said he hoped the change would reinvigorate the department and help squads bond together, creating more tight-knit groups.
“Change is difficult sometimes, there’ll be some aches and pains but I think some good will result,” Eggert said. “We’ll be able to provide the same level of service for less of the cost, which is a benefit to the taxpayer.”
Over the term of the police contract, the city is expected to save about $1 million. Those savings come in overtime, which Eggert estimated would be about $200,000 a year, as well as the retirement of three veteran officers.
The police union made some healthcare concessions and suspended a few incentives, Eggert said.
One other LPD change includes Capt. Brian Wentland being promoted to chief of detectives, succeeding the now retired Capt. Rick Podgers. There are 45 officers in the department, not including Eggert.