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Arbitration to Decide LPD Shift Changes

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LAWTON Okla_ The long labor fight between the City of Lawton and the police union now rests in the hands of an arbitrator.

Tuesday, both sides completed their arguments, which have been going on for over nine months now. The main sticking point has been the city's demand for a change in their 40-hour work week, from four days to five days. 

Monday, we heard from the City of Lawton and how they feel eight hour shifts will be safer for officers and the public, while saving money in the process. It wasn't just the issue of manpower that the union wants the city to know though. It's making sure that food is on their tables, and they have the numbers to back it up.

The morning started with a report presented by Edmond Police Detective Chris Cook. It compared a typical Lawton police sergeant's salary to the average salaries of sergeants in nine other Oklahoma cities. The numbers were startling:

Lawton's finest were paid 18 percent less than the average Oklahoma police sergeant. According to the union, that's why having three days off gives officers an opportunity to hold a second job, and a change to their scheduling would no longer allow for it.

Union President Lieutenant Brian Morris was questioned for three hours. He described the ins and outs of a daily police officer's shift and how many officers were on the clock during those times. All along, the city has argued the eight-hour shift puts more officers in the field per shift, but the union said they'd much rather have the most hands on duty during Lawton's peak hours and less during slower hours of the day. They claim this will keep the department from having to call in additional officers during those peak hours.

Morris also cited that an eight-hour shift would eliminate a lot of briefing for officers just clocking in, stating that sensitive material is not transmitted over radio. The union also touched on the hardships that officers would face with their families, with Morris describing the times he's personally missed out on significant family time when he worked five eight-hour shifts in the past.

As reported Monday, no figures were presented to represent how much money would be saved in overtime costs by eliminating the ten-hour shifts. However, the union did express that those costs would go down once the department was fully staffed. Now, both the city and the police union have rested their cases and the fight is left for arbitrators to decide. The deadline for that decision is Jan. 28, coincidentally the same night as Lawton's City Council meeting.



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