DETROIT – During Detroit's darkest days, around the time of the city's bankruptcy, police officers took massive pay cuts and were forced to work 12-hour shifts.
Most of that is in the past, and now things are looking up for Detroit police officers, as the city backed a new, four-year contract that offers more pay.
Officers get an immediate 2 percent raise under the new contract, with 2.5 percent raises in 2020 and 2021. They also get back four holidays they lost during the bankruptcy.
Officers with five and 15 years on the force will get additional 2.5 percent raises.
During the bankruptcy, the starting police officer salary sank to $29,000. Now, under the new contract, they'll start at $39,000. Officials said this improvement is just the beginning.
City officials opened its police contract two years early and for the second time since 2015.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said getting police pay on par with other cities is the overarching goal.
"We're still not up to parity with the surrounding communities, but the city of Detroit is doing better financially and we're going to keep improving as we go along," Duggan said.
Detroit Police Officers Association President Mark Diaz said the new contract is a major step in the right direction.
"We are definitely not there," Diaz said. "We have a long way to go. But recognizing the need as opposed to the want was something I commend the mayor, his staff and city council and the police chief for bringing that to everyone's attention."
Chief James Craig praised Duggan and said this contract should work wonders for officer morale.
"If the city's not safe and the police officers aren't taken care of, that's a problem," Craig said. "He's opened this contract from 2015. We're talking about a 14 percent wage increase."
Duggan said if the city can afford it, he wants to do this again soon.
"While this contract is through 2021, if we continue to go on the track we are on, I hope to be standing here in the next year or two to continue to address this," Duggan said.
One of the reasons Duggan wants to increase the incentive for Detroit police officers is that the city is training officers in the academy only to see them leave for another community that pays better.
Duggan said city officials are working to require police trained in the Detroit academy to work a minimum of five years for Detroit before leaving. He believes for now, staying competitive with pay should help with the problem.