Like the June 1970 released song by Stevie Wonder; “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)”, the Town Council this week at the regular meeting approved the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Collective Bargaining Agreement. After Councilman Jeff Minchuk made the motion to approve, seconded by Councilman Richard Hardaway. The vote was approved by the six council members present. Mr. Spann was absent.
After the vote of approval, I was honored to invite the FOP President Officer Sean Leto, FOP Vice President Josh Miskus, and FOP representative retired Schererville Police Chief David Dowling along with Merrillville Police Chief Luther Cuttino and town attorney Joe Svetanoff to partake in a contract signing ceremony.
Six copies of the contract were signed by everyone approving a $4,000 raise for all 61 sworn police officers for 2022 and the addition of town health insurance coverage for police retirees which will assist officers who would like to retire prior to turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare. There were also some other minor changes to the 26-page contract.
The documents were signed with special ceremonial ink pens which were made from .308 Real Brass Bullet Casings. After the signing of the documents, I asked FOP President Sean Leto to exchange ink pens with me so that we would have each other’s pens used to sign the contract. “We all have heard how the ‘Pen is Mightier than the Sword, tonight our ink pens represent that ‘The Pen is mightier than a bullet’.” I then asked Sean Leto to always remember to simply write us, call us, meet with us at any time to work out any issues between the Town Council and the Police Officers. Our door is always open.
Certainly, working together is the best way for the betterment of everyone in our great community. That remains my policy. -Rick Bella for The Town of Merrillville