Jacksonville, FOP Lodge Agree To New 4-Year Contract; Ease Residency Requirements to Attract More Applicants

By Benjamin Cox on March 15, 2023 at 9:24am

The City of Jacksonville is taking efforts to make the city more attractive to police and fire recruits.

The Jacksonville City Council approved a new four-year contract with the local Jacksonville Lodge #125 with the Fraternal Order of Police on Monday night. City Attorney Dan Beard says that collective bargaining negotiations went well with the local lodge. Beard says included in the contract is an increase in pay for patrol officers and civilian workers to make the city competitive with local municipalities: “It’s a four-year contract with the command and patrol officers. There is a one percent increase for the first year. Three percent the second year, and then, two percent the third and fourth years. We are also adjusting their pay period. Their 84-hour-per-pay-period is fully compensated now, where in the past, it had not been. The civilian employees get a 4-year contract with a three percent increase the first year and two percent increase each of the next three years.”

Beard says one other provision in the contract is a reversal from a trend that many municipalities made over the last decade. Residency requirements have been a regular provision placed into municipal and county hiring contracts requiring workers or first responders to live within a certain boundary to be employed. Beard says the City of Jacksonville is relaxing that requirement with this new contract: “Probably the biggest move that we’re making is a city initiative that in hopes of getting more applicants both for these bargaining units and down the road for the fire department is relaxing our residency requirements so they are no longer required to live in Morgan County as long as they can make it into work on their assigned times. Applicants can live outside of the county [with this contract], which we hope is a big draw.”

Jacksonville Police Chief Adam Mefford says that city has just hired the last 2 patrol officers off of their current applicant list, leaving the city without any new applicants. Mefford says he’s facing at least 3 upcoming retirements from the police department within the next year. He says the department is down 5 officers total, with 2 currently in the academy and 1 completing on-field training. Mefford says the department is also down 2 detective positions and a dedicated K9 position due to the current staffing level.