In what may be one of his last major actions as El Paso City Manager, Tommy Gonzalez signed a collective bargaining agreement that will see police officers in the city getting substantial raises.

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Starting salaries for El Paso police officers will rise from $47,833 per year to $55,372 per year. That’s a significant boost.

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But one that is needed, Gonzalez said, because of a shortage of applicants for police academies. The academies are attracting about 20 to 30 people and Gonzalez says that number needs to double to keep pace with the need for new officers.

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The new agreement, which had broad support from voting members of the EP police union, would include across-the-board raises and the annual cost of living increases for all officers.  More than a thousand police union members voted for the agreement while only 10 voted against it.

Interim police Chief Pete Pacillas says that almost everyone in the department is happy about the agreement.  “In law enforcement right now, it is difficult to recruit people and retain officers”, Pacillas said, “This agreement addresses both sides.”

City Manager Tommy Gonzalez’s time in that position will end in less than three months as City Council and Mayor Oscar Leeser voted to end his employment in a special meeting in February.

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Gonzalez is a former career military officer who compared the challenges between being deployed to a combat zone and being a police officer:

“In the military, you have rules of engagement. In the police department, they have multiple situations …where they make countless split-second decisions.”

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