BART board approves new police contract, increases salaries

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The BART Board of Directors unanimously approved a new four-year contract with BART’s police officers at their board meeting on Dec. 6 — a move that the agency expects will boost officer retention and recruitment.

The contract includes a one-time salary increase of six percent, annual raises from 2.5-2.75 percent over the course of the contract and the extension of an incentive program that provides new officers a $10,000 hiring bonus. BART said in a press release that the agreement comes as police officer salaries are rising nationwide, and that the deal brings BART officer salaries closer to Bay Area averages.

“The ability to attract and retain good police officers is of paramount importance,” BART spokesperson Christopher Filippi said in an email. “We were below the market in terms of salaries, and this new contract will definitely help us recruit and retain the numbers of and caliber of BART officers the riders deserve.”

Filippi said in his email that the one-time six percent raise is intended to allow the BART Police Department to keep pace with other agencies, noting the need to “respond to a changing labor market” amidst what Filippi says is a national shortage of police officer applicants.

According to Filippi, a greater capacity to retain and recruit candidates will help avoid the use of costly overtime to fill open shifts created by vacancies, and will prevent the “years of knowledge and training” of experienced officers from being lost. Filippi also said it would allow BART to attract the most talented candidates possible.

“This is an important contract not only for our current officers but for recruitment efforts,” BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas said in the press release. “Bay Area law enforcement agencies often are competing to hire the best candidates out of a shrinking pool of qualified applicants. This agreement will make us a more attractive destination for potential hires.”

According to the press release, officer recruitment has been a priority for Rojas since he was hired last year. The release cites that the BART Police Department hired 24 new officers in the first ten months of 2018, compared to 16 new hires in all of 2017, and says it hired an additional seven non-sworn community service officers.

This increase follows the arrival of an incentive program in August 2017 that offered new officers a hiring bonus of $10,000 — a bonus that, as a product of the new labor agreement, will continue into 2019.

“The hiring bonus has been a useful tool for our recruiting campaign,” Rojas said in the press release. “We are focused on extensive public outreach. BPD has attended more than 40 recruitment events across Northern California this year and we plan to keep up those efforts in 2019.”

Contact Alex Teodorescu at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @AlexTeodorescu8.