Darien approves new 4-year police union contract with $1.5K one-time bonus, 11.5 percent total raises

The Darien Police Department headquarters in Darien, Conn., photographed on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.

The Darien Police Department headquarters in Darien, Conn., photographed on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

DARIEN — The Representative Town Meeting has approved a new four-year contract with the Darien Police Association that includes a one-time $1,500 payment and a nearly 12 percent pay increase over the life of the pact.

Members of the Darien Police Department will receive a 2.75 percent general wage increase beginning July 2022 and 2023, followed by an increase of just over 3 percent July 2024 and again in 2025. Every member employed as of the contract's approval would also receive a one-time $1,500 payment.

Association members will also be able to cash in up to six sick days per year for a contribution to their 457 retirement plan, intended to encourage officers to save for their retirement while managing sick time use.

Town administrator Kate Buch acknowledged during a Jan. 18 meeting with the RTM committees on public health and safety and finance and budget that it was “difficult now to hire” police officers. 

“The number of candidates who want to be police officers is lower than it has been in the past, and then the quality of those candidates can be challenging,” Buch said. “(The police department) try and get, when they can, a transfer from another department, someone who is already qualified.”

Buch said Darien was “generally one of the more well-paid communities with our police department,” compared with neighboring towns. Starting salary for a new patrol officer for the 2022-23 fiscal year is $74,770 which will rise to $76,826 for 2023-24. The highest step for patrol officer pays $101,662.

One of the reasons for some law enforcement turnover in Darien is the limited size of the department compared with those in larger towns and cities. Darien's police department is composed of 51 sworn officers, 18 traffic agents and 12 civilian employees.

“Personnel do leave Darien, not for better pay but for the ability to move up in rank,” RTM public health and safety committee chairman Mac Patrick summarized ahead of the final RTM vote.

RTM finance and budget committee chairman Jack Davis also acknowledged that Darien had “a very mature police force.”

“Most of them are at the upper ranks,” Davis said. “At the end of this contract, it’s anticipated that 90 percent of our members will be at the top tiers.”