A new labor contract between the city and the union representing Bakersfield police officers brings to a close, at least for the time being, a years-long battle and benefits those who are most deserving of a focused, committed and properly compensated police force -- Bakersfield's citizens, who depend on those officers for their security and safety.
The agreement gives Bakersfield's officers two increases of 3 percent, retroactive to December 2011 and July 2012, and provides the possibility of future incremental increases up to an additional 6 percent. It is the first deal since 2007.
The city says the terms represent what it could reasonably afford. The Bakersfield Police Officers Association says the numbers fall short of what officers deserve but feel the organization has taken a step forward in "continuing to improve upon a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation with city leaders."
We're grateful to see a resolution to what has been an at-times bitter battle, taken to the public by a BPOA billboard campaign and in newspaper op-eds. We also believe that the salaries of Bakersfield police officers, which according to the BPOA is 30 percent less than those of officers in similarly sized California cities like Fresno, Stockton and Modesto, need to be brought into line with their peers. Now that the economy is showing signs of recovery, the city must find ways in future negotiations to make that happen -- or at least close the gap -- while keeping in mind that a municipality's fiscal circumstances can turn south quickly.