The city of Laurel and the Laurel police department announced the signing of a first-ever collective bargaining agreement this week, a move that city and department officials lauded.

"The gravity of this first contract is huge and it's definitely a step in the right direction," said Cpl. Jesse Conyngham, president of the Laurel FOP. "This is the foundation for building a good relationship with the city."

Mayor Craig Moe said "it was time" for the two sides to reach a deal, which goes into effect July 1. 

"Both sides worked really hard to represent their constituents. Everyone didn't get everything they wanted, but I lived up to the commitment I made that they would have a collective bargaining agreement. It's a good agreement for both sides."

The CBA covers 63 officers with the rank of Sergeant and below, and is a three-year deal. It includes a 13 percent pay raise over three years.

Laurel police chief Richard McLaughlin, who looked on when the contract was signed at the department's headquarters on June 12, said it was "a historic building block," for the future.

McLaughlin praised Moe, stating that he laid the groundwork and "was instrumental in pushing it forward, endorsing it, and believing in" it.

Negotiations on the deal began in 2011 when current councilwoman Donna Crary was president of the city council. 

"The younger members of the force needed a voice, someone to advocate for them, someone they could talk to and voice their concerns, even displeasure, without ramifications; someone to represent them collectively," Crary said.