BRADENTON -- Six new officers were sworn into the Bradenton Police Department Wednesday, bringing the force up to its authorized 120 full-time sworn officers.
"We are excited about that, they were excited, their families were excited," said Police Commissioner and Mayor Wayne Poston during Wednesday's City Council meeting. "All that is positive for the people of the city."
The six officers were sworn in during a ceremony before the 6 p.m. council meeting. The new officers are Lee Cosens, Gregory Helms, Steven Hogan, Craig Justice, Melvin Schoch and Juan Vaquera-Torres.
"These are neighborhood officers," Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski said after the meeting. "Their goal is to partner with the community and continue to prevent crime and make the city as safe as possible."
In other matters, the Florida League of Cities, Inc. presented Vice Mayor Gene Gallo an award for 20 years of service as councilman.
Andrew Hanson, an account executive with the Florida League of Cities, commended Gallo for his "unselfish commitment."
"I want to thank the citizens of the City of Bradenton for permitting me to represent them for these 20 years," Gallo said after receiving a standing ovation from his colleagues and several members of the audience. " I hope I continue to represent the people like I should."
The Bradenton City Council also ratified a 3-year contract between the city and the union that represents custodians, electricians and other city employees who perform operational services. The new contract includes provisions related to nondiscrimination, the city's payment for uniforms and the ability for union representatives to leave their work posts in order to represent the union in contract negotiations or grievances, according to the contract.
American Federation of State, County, and Munic
ipal Employees Local 1311 members will also receive a 3 percent salary increase that will compensate the amount they're being required to contribute to the Florida Retirement System. The new agreement notes that salary increases can be negotiated again in the two last years of the contract.
The union and city will follow the City of Bradenton Employee Handbook prohibition of discrimination based on race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, marital status or disability, a new contract article states. And since the city requires some employees wear uniforms, "then it shall provide the uniforms" and pay for their maintenance, according to the contract. The new agreement expires Sept. 2015.