One week after walking away from the bargaining table and declaring an impasse, the Police Officers Association agreed to mediation of their dispute with Santa Barbara city officials regarding contract negotiations. The police officers are demanding a 28 percent increase – in both salary and benefits – spread throughout three years. City officials have responded with a 19 percent offer for the same duration. The union contends city cops are underpaid relative to their counterparts in comparable cities, claiming this disparity has contributed to morale problems and a turnover rate that’s placing public safety at risk. City negotiators say the raises sought by the police would eat into emergency reserves. Union efforts to mobilize public support – first through a telephone campaign and more recently by ads in the News-Press – have yet to bear substantial fruit. City Councilmember Helene Schneider described the response she’s received in terms of phone calls and emails as “a trinkle.”

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