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Hammond police requesting significant pay raises during contract negotiations, according to mayor

JoeyBLS Photography

Hammond police and firefighters may soon be getting pay raises.

Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. gave an update on contract negotiations to the city council Monday. He said the Fraternal Order of Police is asking for significant raises to keep current officers and attract new ones.

"I'm willing to give our officers the raises they proposed, but it comes at a cost," McDermott told council members. "Some of the perks in the contract have to go away. The pensions we fixed last time can't keep going up, or we can't give the raises they want."

McDermott said he's made significant progress with the FOP negotiating team, but there are still a few "big issues" to resolve. "We are losing police officers as we speak," McDermott noted. "It's a regular occurrence, and it's a pay issue. Make no mistake about it."

When it comes to the fire department, McDermott said he's committed to working with the union to narrow the pay gap with other Northwest Indiana departments, while specifically addressing paramedic pay. He wants to add an ambulance but take another piece of equipment out of service.

The mayor is also looking ahead to negotiations with the Teamsters. Unlike the fire and police departments, he said all of its members actually live in Hammond.

"So, I hear sometimes, 'Hey, you know, let's cut back on the Teamsters. We're paying so much to police and fire.' I don't really belong to that club because the last negotiation I did was the Teamsters, and they're the ones that actually are our bosses. They actually live here with us," McDermott said.

He added that while there are challenges, the police and fire departments can't eat up all the city's resources.

Michael Gallenberger is a news reporter and producer that hosts All Things Considered on 89.1 FM | Lakeshore Public Media.