Syracuse Police headquarters on South State Street in downtown Syracuse. Credit: Julie McMahon

A proposed five-year contract between the city and the Syracuse police officer’s union could upgrade the department’s current schedule, putting more officers to work during key hours. 

“We get to optimize our scheduling more,” city budget director Tim Rudd said of the contract. “We get to have officers stacked when we have peak demand and fewer of them when we have lower demand.” 

The contract would move officers from a six-day week to a 15-day week. 

City officials and union president Joe Moran both said this contract was negotiated more quickly after the union’s previous contract expired than negotiations had been in the past.

The union’s previous contract expired in December.

The proposed schedule change comes at the same time the Syracuse Common Council commissioned a study of the department’s staffing. On Feb. 6, the council approved a measure to spend up to $300,000 for MATRIX Consulting Group to evaluate the department’s staffing.

Rudd said the new contract includes language that would allow the city to change the department’s schedule if the study found it to be inefficient. 

The council will vote on the contract Feb. 27. 

Schedule change 

The goal of the department’s new schedule is to get more officers on the streets at peak hours. 

Under the proposed schedule, officers’ shifts would become 10 hours, creating overlap between shifts at key hours. 

When the department is fully staffed, it would have 18 to 20 more officers on the street between 8 p.m. and midnight. It would add 15 to 21 more officers between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. 

That comes with a tradeoff: There will be about 10 fewer officers on the street between 4 to 8 p.m.

Currently, officers work four eight-hour days followed by two off days. 

Under the proposed schedule, officers would work four ten-hour days followed by four off days then four ten-hour days followed by three off days. 

That schedule is the same as the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, which has seen a number of transfers from the Syracuse Police Department. Deputy Chief Richard Trudell said at a council meeting he hoped the schedule would help retain officers. 

The proposed schedule would also create one day every 15 days in which double the officers are scheduled to work. That would provide the department an opportunity to train officers without creating the need for overtime. 

In addition, the proposed schedule would not add any more hours to an officer’s work year. That number would stay steady at 1,947 hours despite officers working nearly 49 fewer days per year. 

Pay Increases

Over the life of the contract, police department salaries will cost the city $30 million more than the current contract, mostly due to cost of living adjustments. 

Officers would receive 1.75% raises every six months, which equates to about 3.35% every year.  

By the end of the contract first-year patrol officers would receive a base pay of $63,992 and patrol officers with five or more years of experience would receive a base pay of $95,343. 

The table below shows these pay increases by rank.

Sick leave changes

To make the schedule work, city officials said they needed to curtail the use of sick time. 

Last year, about a third of patrol officers used 10 or more sick days. 

The department and the union agreed to reduce the sick leave available to most officers and created an incentive for officers who don’t use as much of their sick leave. 

Here are the proposed changes: 

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Chris Libonati covers government, accountability and equity. Have a tip? Contact Chris at 585-290-0718 or