At the Jan. 19 meeting of the Poughkeepsie Common Council, members declined to approve a proposed five-year contract extension with the city police by a vote of 7-2 with Councilmembers Chris Petsas (Ward 1) and Matt McNamara (Ward 8) in support.

The memorandum of agreement (MOA) extending the collective bargaining agreement with the city’s Police Benevolent Association (PBA), negotiated between Mayor Rob Rolison’s administration and the police union, was presented to the council on Oct. 30, 2020 for consideration.

In a statement issued by Council Chair Sarah Salem, they said the council was not consulted during the negotiations and that with the state-mandated police reform process incomplete it would be premature to approve the deal.

The council has put forward four reforms they would like to see included: an increase in the number of city police officers who live in the city, more civilian oversight, a shorter contract term of no more than three years to increase flexibility and changes to align the older, base contract with current law.

“Many of the reform recommendations are in direct conflict with language contained in the current agreement,” said Salem. “If this agreement is ratified there will be no incentive for the parties to negotiate further changes for at least five years.”

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 of 2020 requires every municipality to go through a process to examine and consider police reform and reinvention options. The result of that process, due by April 1, could impact work rules in the police department that may need to be part of the contract negotiations.

The council cited the approval of generous retention packages and the unanimous approval of an inter-municipal agreement with the town of Poughkeepsie for joint emergency services and procedural justice training as examples of their ongoing support of city police officers.

“It is the desire of the common council to ratify a successor agreement that addresses the concerns of our community and ours regarding police reform, while at the same time providing for a fair agreement for our officers,” said Salem. “We’re looking forward to receiving a new agreement that accomplishes all of these aims.”

Mayor Rolison did not respond to a request for comment on the vote in time for publication.

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