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Finance Committee advances Aurora cop bonus to council

Carie Anne Ergo AurorCity Chief Staff present AurorCity Finance Committee with proposal award $500 bonus all police officers after murderless

Carie Anne Ergo, Aurora City Chief of Staff, present the Aurora City Finance Committee with a proposal to award a $500 bonus to all police officers after a murderless year in the city during a meeting on Tuesday, January 8, 2013. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 10, 2013 5:47PM

AURORA — The city’s Finance Committee unanimously approved a plan that would give Aurora cops a $500 bonus in light of Aurora’s no-murder year.

Following news that Aurora did not record a single homicide during the 2012 calendar year, Mayor Tom Weisner announced Friday that he would propose a $500 bonus for all sworn police officers.

Chief of Staff Carie Anne Ergo said Weisner views the bonus as an opportunity to recognize the officers for their dedicated effort in reducing crime.

“Placing a value on it is difficult at best,” Ergo said. “(The) $500 seems to be the right amount that (the city) could afford.”

The police bonus proposal will be discussed by the full City Council at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Alderman Lynda Elmore, 10th Ward, said she sought comments from other city leaders regarding the bonus.

“The response I got was surprising. They said they supported it 100 percent,” Elmore said. Elmore said the police bonus is no different from private sector workers who are rewarded with a financial bonus for outstanding work.

Alderman Abby Schuler, 1st Ward, said the feedback she received regarding the proposed bonus was “wholeheartedly positive.”

“This wave of no murders has allowed our police officers to work on a number of other improvements in the department including the cold cases and other technology improvements that are planned,” she said.

Alderman Bob O’Connor, At-large, said the bonus rewards officers who have done their job well while in harm’s way.

“I think this is an additional effort on our part to say, yes, within our business — doing the work of government, we can come forward and say this makes sense,” O’Connor said. “We have excellent people and excellent results that we need to recognize.”

Ergo said that the $144,500 to pay the cop bonuses is expected to be saved in the budget through attrition of positions citywide. When an older city workers retire, they are replaced by a new city worker employed at a lower wage.

“This is a no-strings-attached expression of our gratitude for a job well done,” she said.

After more than 20 homicides were committed in 2002 — many attributed to gang violence — Aurora’s increased safety efforts have brought positive change with those numbers dropping to about two homicides per year between 2008 to 2011, and zero in 2012, the city said. Recorded firearm discharges also have decreased from 357 in 1996 to 61 in 2012.

The violent crime rate has decreased more than 30 percent from 2006 to 2011 and more than 50 percent in the past decade.

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