FOP Union Contract Approved, Drug House Ordinance to be Amended

By Maureen Mespell
By Rachel Martin

May 15, 2012 Updated May 15, 2012 at 11:15 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – After negotiating for almost a year, the Fraternal Order of Police will now receive a pay increase. Businesses may soon find themselves shut down for selling synthetic drugs “under the counter.”

Fort Wayne City Council approved to increase the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union contract Tuesday night along with a proposal to amend the Drug House Ordinance.

Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York, regarded the approval as more of a settlement. The FOP wanted a 4 percent pay increase, but the city's budget was unable to accommodate that request.

“The FOP membership wasn’t satisfied initially with the 1 percent,” said Chief York. “I think it was the realization that budgets just prohibited us from offering more of an increase so they [officers] settled.”

The FOP accounts for 76 police sergeants and lieutenants who will get a 1 percent pay increase retroactive to Jan 2011. Chief York says 1 percent is the same increase most Fort Wayne employees received, and no wage increases were budgeted for 2012.

“We recognize a 1 percent increase isn't a big increase, but it is an increase, and I think the FOP realized that too,” Chief York said.

City Council also approved a motion to amend the Drug House Ordinance. Council Member Geoff Paddock (D- 5th District) approached former Judge Kenneth Scheibenberger, who is now the Drug House Ordinance Coordinator for the FWPD Vice and Narcotics Division, about amending the Drug House ordinance after constituents complained that synthetic drugs are being sold “under the counter.” Scheibenberger says the amendment will restrict commercial and industrial properties—mainly convenience stores—from selling synthetic drugs, like K-2 and Spice.

“Otherwise we don’t have any way of shutting them down. Is there really any difference between somebody selling drugs out of a rented house or somebody who is selling drugs out of a rented place? Really no difference at all, so they should have the same penalties,” said Scheibenberger.

FWPD says 67 drug houses were shut down in 2011 and this amendment should contribute to that rising number.

“Hopefully those neighborhoods that have a convenience store in them will see a decrease in the amount of crime, the amount of people hanging around, the amount of drug activity, and their neighborhoods will be a lot nicer place to live,” Scheibenberger said.

In terms of the FOP union contract, Chief York says officers should notice an increase in their pay checks right away. Paddock says the motion to approve the amendment unanimously passed with the exception of an absent council member Tuesday. He expects council to pass the amendment into ordinance at their next meeting.




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