BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – The Southwest Florida chapter of the Police Benevolent Association declared an impasse in negotiations for collective bargaining last week. The local union says officers in Bradenton are paid 15% less than officers in four surrounding counties.

The lower pay scale is impacting the workforce, according to the union. Around a dozen officers have left the department since the start of this year. President of the local P.B.A. chapter Mick McHale tells us they resigned to go to other agencies with better pay. He says if the city doesn’t budge on compensation for its police force, around 50 officers could leave for other jobs by the end of this year.

“I need to make this abundantly clear. This is a fact that his ongoing at that agency. We are losing, to surrounding areas, men and women of their profession,” said McHale.

He described the possible impacts as a “crisis” situation.

“We then enter into response-time problems, we enter into issues of officer safety but, just as important, public safety,” said McHale. “When you pick up the phone and you dial 911… It shouldn’t be a concern of yours that there is not enough individuals available to respond.”

Bradenton city officials declined an on camera interview with 8 On Your Side Monday. We received the following statement from a city spokesperson:

“We are surprised at the declaration of impasse. The Administration has offered the largest wage increase in the history of the City. We will continue to support our great officers and are confident they will be fairly and competitively compensated.”

City of Bradenton

8 On Your side asked for more details regarding the “largest wage increase” in the city’s history, however, our request was not fulfilled Monday.

The city currently has 114 sworn officers and nine vacancies among its sworn positions.

Despite the impasse, negotiations will continue this week. The next session is scheduled for Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the city auditorium. Union representatives tell us 19 other unresolved issues will be discussed during the negotiations. However, the issue regarding officer pay will go before a special magistrate at a later date.