NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – After more than three years, New Haven’s police officers finally have a new contract.

It comes after a bitter battle and uncertainty that saw dozens of officers leave over the last few years.

The union voted overwhelmingly for this new contract, with the big issues being addressed, including pay, pension and benefits.

Both sides are happy to have this contract behind them and feel going forward, it’s good for the officers and the city.

Officer Florencio Cotto, the President of Elm City Local, and the police officers he represents, finally have a new deal.

“Sentiment is one of joy, and we look forward to inking this deal, getting it done, and moving forward,” Cotto said.

Working without a contract for more than three years and in binding arbitration for month, both sides continued to talk, coming to an agreement with the police union voting 259 to 13 for a new six-year contract.

The city said its goal was simple.

“To retain young officers, attract officers, maintain seasoned officers, but above most, show the respect the men and women of the department deserve,” said Sean Matteson, Chief Administrative Officer.

As part of the deal, officers will get retro pay, spread out over three years.

Also, the city is putting a cap on the number of officers that can retire each year at 20.

When it comes to pension payout, the minimum age to collect will now be 25 years in the department or 52 years of age.

“For example, if this rule had already been in effect over the last five years, the police and fire fund would have saved more than 20 million dollars in payments,” Matteson said.

Chief Tony Reyes says without a contract for the last three years, the department saw dozens of veteran officers leave.

“We had a lot of people leave as a result of the uncertainties of this contract, understandably so. People have to make decisions, tough decisions, and they have to prioritize their families,” Reyes said.

This is only the first step. The ratified contract will now go to the Board of Alders, who must sign off on it before it can become official.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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