By Elizabeth Perry
After months of working without a contract, Kennedy Township Police have signed an employment agreement with the township.
Kennedy Township commissioners approved a four-year police contract on June 8, retroactively extending the contract to Jan.1 of this year, but the contract was not accepted by the police until July 13, according to the contract provided by Township Manager Greg Clarke.
Police Chief Anthony Bruni said he did not participate in negotiations and the proposal had to be ratified by the rank and file.
“Legally the police are not allowed to go on strike, what they can do is they can go to binding
arbitration,” Bruni said, adding that he didn’t believe the negotiations ever got to that point.
Clarke said the contract was pretty much the same but, “there was give and take on the raises as well as the healthcare.”
Senior officer pay topped out at $84,288.76, Clarke said. With the new contract which goes into effect retroactively to Jan. 1 of this year, senior officer pay goes up to $86,395.98. Each year sees another increase, until 2026, 2.5% for 2024, 3% for 2025 and 2026 according to the contract. Clarke said three of the nine officers on the force are not yet being paid at the senior officer pay rate.
Hourly rate for part-time officers is increasing also. In 2023 their pay is going to be $18.39 hourly, then $18.74 in 2024, $19.09 per hour in 2025 and $19.44 in 2026.
Full-time officers are tasked with paying for their own bullet-proof vests, according to the contract. Typically, bullet-proof vests cost more than a thousand dollars. Part-time officers receive a $350 stipend to purchase uniforms, a sidearm and a bullet-proof vest. They are required to purchase their own sidearms as approved by the Chief of Police.
Arrangements of this sort are typical among local departments.
Full-time versus Part-time
“The smaller departments have a limited budget,” said Coraopolis Police Chief Ronald Denbow.
Both full-time and part-time Coraopolis officers purchase their own sidearms, though bullet-proof vests are provided for full-time officers. Part-time officers purchase their own bullet-proof vests, but they are reimbursed a portion of that price the more hours they work with the borough.
Denbow said the vests are about $1,200, and are tailored to the body of a particular officer. If that officer then leaves, then “you’re stuck with that vest.”
“You can’t blame a part-time officer for seeking full-time employment,” Denbow said.
Officers provide their own guns which must be approved by the department and they must be qualified for that weapon every year. Denbow said the weapons must have the same caliber, but they can be different brands in order to better fit each officer’s size.
In McKees Rocks, Chief Rick Deliman said there is only one part-time officer at this time, and he hasn’t been on duty “in a long time.” Part-time officers must supply their own weapon and bullet-proof vest.
Officers are also tasked with buying their own sidearms, but receive a payroll deduction to cover the cost. McKees Rocks Borough Police use grant funding to supply full-time officers with bullet-proof vests at no cost to the officers.
In Stowe, the township purchases bullet-proof vests for full-time officers, but they are responsible for purchasing their own service weapons according to Chief Matthew Preininger. The weapons are registered with the police department and the state, Preininger said.