DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver City Council Monday night voted down a two year deal negotiated with the Denver Police Union that would have meant no raise next year, but a nearly 3 percent increase in 2022. The vote was 8-5.
Council members talked about their concern for the city’s budget as tax revenues decline in the era of COVID.
“I’m concerned that we could be a worse budgetary situation if we don’t approve this and it does go to arbitration,” said 4th District council member Kendra Black in announcing her support.
But others expressed hope the city could be tighter with its money.
“I believe that we need to try again for a better deal that has less risk in the later year,” said At-large council member Robin Kniech.
For police protestors who filed into Council chambers, it was what they wanted, but not entirely.
“I don’t think this was a big win,” said Brian Loma. “The City Council simply said you didn’t bring this to the table the right way.”
The only council member who was in chambers was District 9 councilwoman Candi CdeBaca. The rest took part online.
“It sounds like council wanted a one year agreement which is appropriate for the worst economic situation we’ve ever experienced,” said CdeBaca after the vote.
Many of the protestors cheered at the “no” votes, hoping for de-funding of police.
“This is not the place to do that,” said CdeBaca. “That still needs to happen in another venue, but what this allows us to do is to meet our economic challenge of the moment. That challenge from the public to do something different with public safety.”
That discussion, she says, will start with budget talks in a week.
This decision by the Council means Denver and the Police Protective Association have to re-start talks for a deal. If they cannot reach a deal soon — 45 days after talks initiated, the issue will go to arbitration.
“It is absolutely beyond comprehension how this contract was not approved,” wrote Nick Rogers, President of the Police Protective Association in a statement. Rogers was also outraged at a video produced by artist Mc Coats that showed conflict between police and protestors and police violence was shown early in the Council meeting as Coats was honored for his artistic work.
“Highly inappropriate,” wrote Rogers.
Mayor Michael Hancock also lashed out at the Council for not approving the deal.
“The agreement presented … was the best deal possible on behalf of the taxpayers and the officers who protect them,” he tweeted.
The agreement presented to @DenCityCouncil was the best deal possible on behalf of our taxpayers and the officers who protect them, balancing the sacrifice public servants must make during an economic downturn with our chartered responsibility to public safety.
— Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) September 15, 2020
“Tonight’s decision by the Council is not only short-sighted and irresponsible — it also puts city employees & services further at-risk and cuts, & shows a total disregard for police officers who are willing to share in the sacrifices required by our current budget situation,” wrote the Mayor.