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Buffalo, police union reach tentative agreement that includes residency requirement

Newly hired police officers who come into the department in Buffalo would have to live in the city for at least seven years, according to a contract between the City of Buffalo and the Police Benevolent Association that was made public on Friday.

The deal that was worked out between the two sides is not yet permanent.

But, in the preliminary agreement, in addition to other stipulations, new hires would also not be eligible for a particular insurance plan available to officers right now.

Officers’ pay would increase 16.5 percent over the 10-year life of the preliminary contract. The deal would be retroactive to 2009.

It was unveiled by Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda and other police officials on Friday afternoon at a news conference in City Hall.

Brown was pleased with the new deal.

“This new 10-year tentative contract provides fiscal certainty with respect to police wages, secures important cost-saving concessions for the future and will change the makeup of the Police Department of the future by requiring new hires to be stakeholders of this community,” the mayor said.

One of the biggest victories – from the city’s point of view – is the new residency requirement, which the mayor said makes Buffalo “the only large city police department in the state to have residency for its police officers.”

Brown said that makes a difference.

“We think when officers live in a community, it provides officers a greater stake in that community, (it’s good for) the neighbors of the community that they police in and we think it is good for the morale of our department,” he said.

Derenda anticipates the requirement could become more stringent in future contracts.

“I believe every officer should live in the city,” the commissioner said.

“Back in 2007, when I visited the Chicago Police Department, one of the first things I found out was that every police officer, every firefighter, every teacher has to live in the city, and I think Buffalo would be a better place if we had the same rules in place long ago,” he said.

All newly hired firefighters must reside in the city for the lifetime of their employment, under the most recent contract struck with the firefighters’ union.

The tentative contract still requires ratification by PBA membership.

That could take place on or around a July 9 meeting with the membership of the union, Derenda said.

“I believe this contract is good for the city, and it’s also good for the PBA,” he said.