Divided City Council Proves Bonus Incentive for FPD Officers

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - A divided Fairbanks city council approved a bonus incentive for Fairbanks police officers last night at City Hall.
That bonus was the main topic of discussion at Monday's city council meeting.
It will pay out amounts from $13,000 to $33,000 to officers and dispatchers who stay with the city through the end of 2018, with the amount paid to each varying based on their length of service.
The money will be paid out of funds already allocated to the police department that are unused because of low staffing levels, so it won't be an additional burden on the city's budget.
But council members Jerry Cleworth and David Pruhs opposed the bonus because they say it isn't fiscally responsible given tight budgetary climates for the city and state.
Pruhs also brought up the city's ongoing contract dispute with the public safety employees union, saying he thinks they're incompetent, and that giving the bonus is - quote - "rewarding their incompetency" - end quote.
Mayor Jim Matherly sided with council members Valerie Therrien, June Rogers, and Jonathan Bagwill in voting for the bonus.
He says the payment makes sense given the conditions police face on the job.
Mayor Jim Matherly; City of Fairbanks>>"Beheadings, killings, murders - now we're at 13 homicides this year, folks, 13. And guess what: There's still three weeks left in the year. I'm not trying to be facetious; it's the truth. Now we're down seven cops. And not everybody that's been in training has made it through. You know that. I talk with Chief Jewkes daily about this. Daily. So yeah, I emphasize with the police right now. I do."