Salt Lake police say in the past five years, the crime rate has risen 40 percent; the cost of living, 14 percent. The only thing that has dropped, they say, is their ability to buy groceries for their kids.
What is guaranteed to go up is pickets.About two dozen officers Thursday afternoon were sprawled on the fourth floor of the Public Safety Building, 315 E. Second South, writing slogans on signs they will carry during the City-County Building dedication ceremonies this weekend.
Officers are protesting what they call a paltry 2 percent pay hike the city offered after police went four years without a pay increase and two years without a merit raise. The 2 percent just about covers increases in insurance premiums.
"Most of the officers are willing to go all the way with this. We really don't want to" picket or send letters to the International Olympic Committee, said officer Joe Clark. "They (city negotiators) aren't willing to work with us."
The telephone rings constantly in Dave Greer's office on the fourth floor. The president of the 200-member police union spent most of Thursday on the phone with citizens and reporters as a steady flow of officers came in to discuss the plan.
"The mood of the officers is very militant," Greer said.
But Greer, who was elected union president last December, is trying to prevent officers from any kind of sick-out or wildcat strike, both unpopular actions.
"I think I was able to establish that would be inappropriate," Greer said of a union meeting Wednesday night that 90 officers attended. "They're letting us play out our scenario first."
That scenario includes picketing dedication ceremonies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Officers were signing up for two-hour stints on the informational picket line.
Additionally, a proposal to send a letter to the IOC about Salt Lake's crime problems and the mayor's alleged inability to ease the situation is still in the works.
"We have a very legitimate right" to advise the committee that will select one U.S. city to bid for the Winter Olympics what is going on in Salt Lake, Greer said.
Most of the 50 calls Greer said he received Thursday were positive.