The city’s new police chief Troy Oswald is considering retirement after contract negotiations stalled over a pay increase, according to municipal officials.
Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration is not budging on a pay increase, even after fire chief Brian McDermott offered to take a pay cut that would boost the police chief’s pay, bringing both chiefs to $240,000 each, according to officials.
Oswald’s salary is $229,000. He would get an increase to reach parity with the fire chief. McDermott’s salary is $259,000. He offered to accept a $19,000 pay cut, according to officials.
“I think very highly of chief Oswald. I’m just not in a position to pay him more,” said Sayegh on Thursday afternoon. He called McDermott’s offer to take a pay cut “very noble,” but said the fire chief’s offer was made in light of the city’s fiscal distress rather than to give the police chief an increase.
“That’s not tied to it,” said Sayegh. He noted the police chief received a pay increase when he was promoted. Oswald received a $20,000 pay increase – his salary went from $190,000 to $210,000 — when he was promoted in February, said the mayor.
Sayegh further added the former police commissioner of New York City made little over $200,000 for running the country’s largest police department. A New York Post story stated in 2014 that William Bratton earned $205,000.
Both Oswald and McDermott declined to comment on Thursday afternoon.
“We are not in negotiations whatsoever at this time,” said Oswald. Talks broke down two weeks ago, said the mayor.
Council members had a strong reaction to the news of Oswald’s possible retirement in February 2019.
“This administration is making decisions that are detrimental to the city,” said Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman, chairman of the public safety committee. He praised the chief as “capable” and as having “a night and day difference” in comparison to ex-chief William Fraher.
Luis Velez, 5th Ward councilman, said leadership instability in the police department will erode morale and has the potential to increase crime.
“The mayor needs to address this,” added Flavio Rivera, councilman at-large, chairman of the finance committee. “He is not a chief that sits behind the desk.”
Rivera said he saw the chief personally enforce the law at Eastside Park.
“The chiefs plan won’t cost the city a dime,” said Jackson. “I’m in full support of our police chief.”
Jackson praised the fire chief for his generosity, calling it “unparalleled.”
“No one ever says ‘I’ll take less,’” said Jackson. He particularly praised the fire chief’s effort to build a more diverse department.
Oswald has been working in the city for 26 years, according to payroll records. He and Sayegh have appeared complimentary at public events.
Sayegh has often praised Oswald, even before he became the chief of police.