SARASOTA-  Sarasota Police Officers warning of longer response times if they City of Sarasota does not come to the negotiating table.

“We are potentially setting ourselves up for a public safety crisis,” President IUPA Local 6045 and SPD Officer Eric Urbain said. “Plainly put when you dial 911, you expect a top tier officer to respond quickly and address your needs and concerns.”

According to the Union, five officers left the department in June alone and they have not been replaced.

“Each proposal that we have submitted has been rejected without much counterproposal,” Officer Urbain said. “Without much discussion.”

Urbain says negotiations started on rough footing when the city outright denied an anti-discrimination clause.

“We are trying to employ and be a diverse department,” Urbain said. “We have Officers in our Department that identify as gay, trans, we’ve got a great diverse department right now, we want to keep that and we want those people to feel valued.”

Detective Dominic Harris grew up in Newtown and says with inflation and rising housing costs it’s incredibly difficult for officers to support a family in the city.

“I know the importance of having a good police department with resources to partner with the community” Harris said. “To sustain this we need competitive salaries to attract and retain the best officers in the market.”

“We’re not expecting to make more than Tampa,” Officer Urbain said. “We understand we are a smaller city, however our tax base is comparable to them. We’re looking to make what they were making two to three years prior.”

The City of Sarasota sent SNN a statement saying: “We have been active participants, responded to numerous proposals and listened to the IUPA members during the negotiations. We will continue to do so, as we do not see this as a win/lose proposal but an opportunity for both sides to present information and come to acceptable agreements.”

The city specifically mentioned public safety is a priority and that is why 10 new police officer positions were added to the budget, and that the discrimination clause is already protected under state and federal law and local ordinance.

The current contract expires in October and the City and Union need to reach a new agreement before then.