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Our Opinion: A fair agreement

April 19, 2001

We are pleased to see the Brawley City Council and the Brawley Public Safety Employees Association have ended a contract dispute that lasted nearly a year. The settlement appears fair for both sides and we are hopeful it will lead to a renewed desire among police officers to stay in the city.

For much too long the contract dispute was a source of division in Brawley, even if council members say that was not the case. If you have experienced police officers opting to leave the city over a contract dispute, there is division. Whether that was the fault of the council for not offering enough or police for demanding too much is hard to say. Frankly, it doesn't matter anymore.

The settlement is in effect a three-year contract that gives police and support staff a 5 percent pay increase retroactive to July 2000, a 3.5 percent raise in 2001 and a 3.5 percent increase for 2002. On top of that police officers get a better retirement package, a 5-percent bilingual pay increase and more chances to receive step increases within the rank of agent.

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From what we have been told the association has voted to accept that offer and the City Council voted this week to approve the contract.

This should bring a period of peace between the council and police. We hope veteran officers stay in a city whose residents deserve officers who have experience and a strong knowledge of Brawley. We hope the city can attract new officers to the department, officers who will not just come to train but stay for awhile.

The city needs to put this contract dispute behind it. It got to the point where police cut their duties in protest that they were being paid less than other police departments in the Imperial Valley. The situation got to the point where police filed a lawsuit against city officials, stating the city had not bargained fairly. The police ultimately won that case.

That is all in the past now.

Now city residents will continue to have quality police service and youths again can take part in the Brawley Police Activities League, which had been in hibernation.

We hope the spirit of compromise that led to this settlement can continue in 2002 when contract talks start again.

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