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Arlington PD eyes adding sergeant position

ARLINGTON — Dick Butner earned affectionate ribbing from his fellow Arlington City Council members, when they reviewed a proposed amendment to the collective bargaining agreement with the Arlington Police Officers Association regarding sergeants.

Arlington Police Officer Peter Barrett and Arlington Assistant City Administrator Kristin Banfield presented the proposal at the City Council’s Sept. 8 workshop. The proposal would provide for the creation of the sergeant position within the bargaining unit, an amendment over which the APOA has been negotiating with the city since June.

Butner, who once worked with the Arlington Police Department, questioned why the police department’s existing master patrol officers were not named by the proposal as first choices for the sergeant position, considering their responsibilities and experience.

Barrett explained that the police union expects master patrol officers to be able to obtain the sergeant position by competing with other officers, due to the benefit of that same experience.

The introduction of the sergeant position into the Arlington Police Department’s ranks has caused the pay scale to be revised, but Arlington City Administrator Allen Johnson pointed out that the police union has agreed to these revisions. Banfield described them as being based on reviews and analyses of comparable city police departments.

Johnson then jokingly suggested that the police union might wind up tapping Butner to serve as their negotiator for their next bargaining session with the city, which brought laughter from all the workshop’s attendees, including Butner.

Under the proposal, an officer would be required to have a minimum of five years experience as a commissioned police officer, and a minimum of three years with the Arlington Police Department, to be eligible to be a sergeant. There would be no more than half a dozen sergeants in the Arlington Police Department, with two each on the day and night shifts, and one on the swing-shift.

When asked about morale in the police department, Barrett echoed reports he’d received from Lt. Ed Erlandson, attesting to the department’s increased morale.

“It’s amazing and getting better every day,” Barrett said. “It’s been a breath of fresh air. I haven’t even heard a negative word.”

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