UPDATE 9/7/2016 10:21 p.m.: On Wednesday, KION learned the Salinas Police Officer's Association and the City of Salinas have reached a tentative contract agreement, calling for ways to retain and recruit officers.
Salinas POA President Gabriel Carvey said the agreement is tentative. It will be discussed Thursday and the city council is expected to vote on the contract next Tuesday.
The Salinas POA says it’s been working with the city since last September to help with recruiting and keeping officers.
Currently the department has 135 officers, the same number it had in 1976 when the city's population was about a third of what it is now. Both sides hope this deal will change that.
"Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 470 full 10-hour shifts that have been ordered in on people's days off,” said POA president Gabriel Carvey.
This is a busy and demanding time for Salinas’ police officers, and the police union says officers have had enough.
“Countless times, on a daily basis, officers are also held over after their 10 hour shift for an extra five hours, making it a 15 hour day," Carvey said.
Many officers have even left to join the force in nearby cities.
"In the calendar year last year, we lost seven or eight officers to the Gilroy Police Department,” Carvey said. “They can travel as short as 20 minutes away from here and make the same or more money and do a lot less work. So it's been difficult to retain officers just for quality of life issues."
With continued recent violence, the POA says the city needs to get more cops on the streets. The city agrees, and it hopes this contract will help.
"I think you will see that when our number starts building, we will be able to provide services that we aren't now. We will be able to rebuild our school resource officer, our gang task force, we will be able to put officers in neighborhoods again," said Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter.
While Carvey is confident about the new deal, he says there's a long way to go.
"This is definitely not the answer to it all, this contract, but it is definitely a step toward the right direction," Carvey said.
The association and the city will publicly discuss details of the contract once it's finalized.
UPDATE 9/7/2016 3:07 p.m.: On Wednesday, KION learned the Salinas Police Officer's Association and the City of Salinas have reached a tentative contract agreement, calling for ways to retain and recruit officers.
Salinas POA President Gabriel Carvey said the agreement is tentative and will be discussed on Thursday.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Salinas Police Officers Association is calling on the city to do more to stop crime. According to the association, they don’t have enough officers and that they are having trouble keeping the ones that they do have. Reason being, other departments offer better pay, more reasonable hours and more incentives.
So with all of that mind, the association gathered today to demand that the city to come up with a reasonable plan to stop crime. The request comes during a year where city has seen 16 homicides so far. Last year it was 40. The association says, it’s an uphill battle, as it works to improve benefits, wages and working conditions for officers.
“We want an immediate action plan that will increase the number of police officers on our streets and provide resources for true community policing and crime prevention,” said Gabriel Carvey, a 16 year veteran of the Salinas Police Force and the Salinas Police Officers Association president.
Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin says he understands the association’s demands.
“I think they are right about pretty much about everything that they have said,” said McMillin. “We are understaffed, moral is down, we are not policing Salinas the way it should be policed.”
Still, Chief McMillin told KION that it it’s not hiring problem, they hired almost 40 new police officer in the last two years. The bigger issue, he says, is retention.
According to McMillin, officers are moving to places with better working environments with better pay.
Mayor Joe Gunter, however, says more pay for police isn’t always the answer. He also adds that that he is a difficult position because balancing the budget isn’t easy.
“If all of the money goes to one organization, what do you tell the firefighters, what do you tell the people who maintain your roads and how do I tell you we can’t have youth programs because I gave all the money to one organization.”