Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green said the new four-year contract approved by the MBTA Board of Directors on Thursday will boost competitiveness and increase retention at a department that was losing 10 to 12 officers per year.
The retroactive agreement between the MBTA and Police Association includes a roughly 18% wage increase over four years, from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2027. The average annual raise is approximately 4.5%, the T said in a statement.
Green, a 32-year Transit Police veteran, said the number of people applying to become police officers has declined sharply since he took his exam, from roughly 40-50,000 to 8-9,000.
“That pool is being picked out by over 300 police agencies in the state, but with this new contract, what it does is it goes a long way in helping us stabilize our department, as well as to increase the headcount of the MBTA police department,” Green said. “It makes us very competitive with other departments to obtain new hires.”
The lower wages were driving officers away, he said, noting that 10-12 people were leaving per year, and the problem was so pronounced last year that at one point, the department was “down 90 bodies.”
“That’s a big hit,” Green said. “But with this new contract, that just brings us back in the game.”
The contract includes retirement eligible retention bonuses and a one-time bonus for eligible retirees to defer retirement to the end of 2024. It also implements a longevity bonus program at 10, 15, 20 and 25 years to address current staffing shortages and retain frontline officers, the T said.
Sixteen of the 42 recruits in an incoming MBTA Transit Police Academy class that starts Dec. 11 will join the TPD. Two officers from Medford and Lexington are transferring to the T police as well, the agency said.
“We are steadfast in our commitment to rebuilding our workforce, including our Transit Police officers responsible for protecting the public and our workers,” MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng said in a statement.
“This contract, and the speed at which we reached an agreement convey our understanding of the difficult but vital role our brave officers perform, putting the safety of our riders first every day.”