Tentative Plan to Fill Vacant Jobs Calls for Ending Civil Service for Haverhill Police

Haverhill's Bailey Boulevard police station. (WHAV News file photograph)

Mayor James J. Fiorentini says a new agreement with the Haverhill Police Superior Officers union calls for an end to Civil Service rules and allows him to begin filling 16 to 20 vacant police officer jobs.

Fiorentini told city councilors Tuesday night Civil Service could end if the Haverhill Police Patrolmen’s Union agrees with the city and superior officers.

“We’ve talked before—the chief and I both—about the difficulties in filling vacancies that all of the communities have is the delay in Civil Service—not in anything we’re doing or the chief is doing or not doing,” the mayor said.

He said police officer vacancies have been caused by retirements, transfers and the time it takes to hire and train new recruits. Despite the vacancies, he said, the city still has 14 more police officers on the street than it did in 2013—the highest in the city’s history.

For now, the city has applied for 20 names from the Civil Service list and, again with consent from patrolmen, plans to begin using “special” and “intermittent” police officers to temporarily fill vacancies and offer a $10,000 signing bonus to attract officers who transfer from other communities.

Questioned by Councilor Michael S. McGonagle, the mayor said the city would continue to oppose allowing its own officers to transfer out of the department. Following up, Councilor Timothy J. Jordan said it doesn’t seem “fair” to ban outgoing transfers. Fiorentini said, as an example, allowing 20 people to leave would undermine the plan. To which, Jordan responded to cheers from firefighters in the audience, “I think clearly we would be doing something seriously wrong if we had 20 people looking to leave at the same time.”

Temporary officers, Fiorentini explained, are on-call officers who would fill open positions while the city seeks to hire permanent police officers.

The new union agreement also calls for cost of living adjustments of 2% each year for the first two years and 1.75% for the third year.

In a statement after the meeting, Fiorentini called on the patrolmen’s union to “step up to the plate, and agree to allow us to use special and intermittent police officers, as are currently used in so many other cities including Methuen and Manchester, New Hampshire.”

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