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Local 724 Political News
Keep it right here for you latest Team 724 news and events.
Political Director Chuck Flynn will posting vital info to the campaign
and Team 724's next move..


724 response to City Council 8/9/17

 


City council chambers was packed this past Monday night with concerned citizens voicing their concerns over the lack of police to our elected officials. Some let their emotions get the best of them but the message was clear - they wanted more police. Councilors seemingly in the dark regarding police staffing issues appeared to be straight out of a scene from the movie of Casablanca when Capt. Louis Renault stated "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"

While some hurt feelings and bruised egos may have been casualties from this democracy in action, there was plenty of open dialogue exposing an inconvenient truth on police staffing that we hope results in positive steps to improve police our operations.
Councilors all facing re-election this fall expressed their desire to find ways to increase police ranks. Since planning for new police officers will require several budget years to achieve, a constant vigilance by our citizens and police union leaders will be required to ensure councilors and city leaders follow through on such a plan.
This Union is an outspoken advocate on behalf of our rank and file police officers for wage, benefits and working conditions. Any reader of our web pages for more than 30 days would know about our working conditions and how hard our men and women work and the crazy amount of hours their putting in for the last several years having lost 35% of the department manpower.

According to various realtor pages on city demographics crime data reveals that overall New London crime rates are 43% higher than in comparison to the Connecticut mean. The chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime in the city is 1 in 34. These facts should paint a clear picture that our cops are busy with plenty of work. We offer these facts not to scare our community, new business or development projects, rather realize we have a problem. Once the problem is identified we can find and implement a solution.

Union leadership has enjoyed vastly improved labor/management relations since Mayor Mike Passero became our new mayor. We have worked with him and his team through many thorny issues to find amicable resolutions, this shall be no different. President Lynch was very direct and clear with the facts and our member concerns for a problem that has been ignored for too long and time has come to work on solution. Zero is not a number and doing nothing is not doing something. Borrowing a quote from Michael Corleone" It's not personal - It's strictly business" .

So let's roll up our sleeves and - together - we can find a solution.

 

 

724 response to The Day overtime article

 


The Day published a follow up story to our April Update highlighting our manpower issues and the amount of overtime our officers are working. Our update related the amount of hours worked in just one weekend. The City pushed back with their own version to tamp down the issue by claiming, "such overtime numbers are misleading. They can include third-party jobs that officers volunteer for, , such as beach patrol or private construction work. That’s money the city later recoups from the contractors…also include court proceedings, and union business days off". To be clear there was no court, construction jobs the weekend we highlighted, union business was granted for two officers by the city for ongoing contract talks.
What is not so clear was the response to the 80 officer ordinance passed in 2013. Since then we have increased staffing from 65-68 officers. Mayor Passero said "The goal was to work our way there faster than this". Well Mr. Mayor it was your ordinance what was your timeline?

May we remind the mayor of his clash with then Mayor Finizio over police staffing from a December 2014 Day article when Passero said, "The mayor's [Finizio] professed support for the police department is belied by the fact that he has failed, for fully half the fiscal year, to begin the process of increasing police department staffing as authorized by the Council". At this rate of 1/2 new officer added each year we should reach that goal of 80 officers by 2037.

This council is as much to blame, the sitting president of council is a working police officer and has not offered any dialogue or public input to the demands being placed upon the agency.
Since all sides agree staffing is deficient for the amount of services required why not focus on ways to remedy the problem. Why can't the mayor and council explore new mechanisms to increase revenues - not budget offset- for police operations.
Such as: ability to charge embarkation fees on Cross Sound Ferry and Fisher's Island Ferry traffic, erect a toll on Ferry Street and lower State Street charging a $1 per axle for access to the ferry terminals, increase city parking permit/ garage and violation fees with percentage dedicated to police, implement emergency services fee to all tax exempt city entities, seek state permission to impose 1 cent increase to state sales tax directly benefitting the city, direct $1 per car from Ocean Beach fees to police, impose city ordinance allowing police to cite moving/equipment violations as city violations rather than state Infractions so all revenues can benefit the city rather than state. All these roses may have thorns to deal with, but it's better than doing nothing for the past 7 years.

Some good news to report from inside the PD, three officers fully recovered from light duty status and returned to full duty after extended period of time and one of our dispatchers rescinded their resignation letter and is back to work. We welcomed back these badly needed personnel to improve our number of ready and able to work officers.

Bad news remains calls for services. A few shootings and stabbing investigations in and around the city has kept us somewhat preoccupied while our pesky "homeless "clients have strained emergency services recently with a spike in K2 overdoses, not to mention our robust opioid abusers overdosing throughout the city while selfishly chasing their next high. All in a day's work for our men and woman who according to the City Web Page "strive to provide New London's citizen and business community with a complete range of and the highest level of public service work" throughout this historic and charming seacoast city.

One positive outcome is that it has the public talking, let your voices be heard at the next Council meeting where public comment will be heard on the police issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST UPDATE

With the dog days of summer upon us many are taking well earned vacations including this writer on Island time, which prompted this update to be publish earlier than usual.


The Legislature is moving a glacial pace to bring a budget on line. The Democrats were instrumental in obtaining huge concessions from state labor unions who voted overwhelmingly to ratify a concession deal negotiated by the Malloy administration. The estimated savings could be as much as $1.57 billion this fiscal year and $24 billion over the next two decades. Concessions include: A three-year wage freeze and three furlough days for most workers; Higher health insurance co-payments and premiums; Increased worker contributions toward pensions and retirement health care; And a new hybrid pension/defined-contribution plan for future employees. The state would grant four years of layoff protection to bargaining units that ratify the wage freeze and furlough days. And it would extend the benefits contract, which covers all workers, for five years, pushing its expiration date to 2027.

The problem is the Republicans being led by Senator Len Fasano and House Minority Leader Themes Klarides refuse to allow for hike in sales tax or highway tolls to raise much needed revenues instead they not only want more employee concessions but want "structural changes" to collective bargaining. Meaning Republicans don't want to negotiate they want to legislate union collective bargaining rights, benefits and working conditions. Republicans want to solve all the state economic woes on the backs of middle class tax paying state and municipal workers. These workers aren't responsible for the state not properly funding the pension programs or throwing away money they didn't have at an ever expanding social services programs and shouldn't be punished for failures of past and present legislatures.

There remains a deep disconnect between Republican and Democratic leaders which seems to have little chance for improvement or a new budget anytime soon. But it should also be pointed out that both Klarides and Fasano are considering a run for Governor which means this is political posturing. What is a sure thing is organized labor gets out the votes on Election Day, if either one wants to punish workers with more concessions they will have many pissed off union workers making sure neither is elected.

Inside the Washington beltway our own US Senator Dick Blumenthal, politically isolated from the rest of the country due to the royal court type environment in DC has proposed sending half a billion of our taxpayer dollars to Ukraine to help their wounded soldiers. While certainly a nice gesture we, as a nation, simply can’t afford to be providing extra medical care for them, or anyone else for that matter, when we seemingly can’t even provide sufficient care for our own wounded veterans showing just how out of touch he is with his constituents.


Here in New London, the city called too tough to die by Murray "The Eye" Renshaw, cops continue to work without a contract that lapsed on June 30. The patch work schedule demands order in shifts just to have five officers to cover the entire city with a heavy work load on calls for service. The weekend of July 15 resulted 268 man hours of police overtime, many volunteered for the extra duty but six officers had to be ordered in for a double shift instead of being home to be with families when the dept ran out of volunteers to cover shifts.

Additionally Support Services lost three of our eight dispatchers having recently quit. While two new hires are still in early training phases and not on their own, the remaining five dispatchers must fill six slots 24/7. Such a demand on personnel not only jeopardizes dispatchers from excessive fatigue it potentially harms the public and fist responders. Just another daily SNAFU to deal with in the Whaling City.

To illustrate our dilemma, a recent evening shift had the usual only five cops working when a call for shots fired came in. As police arrived they found spent bullet casings and blood. They had a crime scene, an unknown injured victim and unknown armed suspect possibly still in the area. At the same time a domestic disturbance call of a man actively beating a woman in another part of the city and the fire department in another far corner of the city out with an unresponsive opioid overdose requesting police assistance. All requiring an immediate police response. That is what our job is like more often than not with grossly understaffed overworked officers.

As NLPD continues to struggle with several years of critical manpower issues having lost almost 33 patrol officers with no relief in sight the Board of Education advertises to immediately hire 76 new positions. While we won't dispute if the BOE needs those positions, our complaint is our concerns go unabated every fiscal year because Councilors are told monies must be spent on the children if there is to be improvement.
New London per pupil expenditures are $16,730 ranking in the top 16 statewide yet out of 180 high schools New London graduation rates average 74.1% which puts them in the bottom 15 in the state. That graduation number is bolstered higher by counting the STEM high school with a higher graduation rate than the high school.
How much is enough and what's too much when other city needs are continually ignored especially this year when this City Council went out of its way to award the BOE an additional $1 million from the city side of the budget.
Less cops means: fewer police on the street, protracted delay for routine calls, little to none pro active community based policing, more officer order ins (over 550 last year) more use of sick time (over 675 book offs last year) and more seriously injured cops (10 last year). Torn rotator cuffs, broken bones, lacerations and soft tissue injuries just to name a few
.
Our agency continues to widen its mission expectations by a demanding public who remains clueless to our acute staffing shortages. These expectations for services have not been matched by an increase in personnel or resources, leaving us to question how we can accomplish these missions. Predictable and sufficient funding is necessary to meet this ability now and in the future. The issue is proportionality.

Could City Council have allowed BOE "only" 60 new hires this year and allowed us to hire sixteen new officers? The problem will be exacerbated with as many as 10 current officers eligible to retire in the next fiscal year. There is no back bench to pull from these are all front line officers. We know we can do more with new officers. This staffing problem has been ignored for at least the last 4 fiscal years due to either by willful negligence or a wanton disregard to our issues, you make the call.
While New London suffers with 8.5% unemployment, 40% population earning less than $35,000 per year and housing values have dropped 30% in the last 10 years there is some good news to report. Our homeless industry continues to expand as the Homeless Hospitality Czar Catherine Zall adds a major addition to her State Pier Road tax exempt command center.

Did we mention the shelter averages 58 calls a month for police/fire services at this location since January 1 of this year, which doesn't include their four other off-site homeless locations that also demands city services. To extrapolate the average monthly calls for service will be estimated 700 calls for the "Hospitality" Center this year, clearly not many hospitable clients there. To think Czar Zall has access to all those city emergency services 24/7/365 without paying even one thin dime in taxes. Isn't New London great?!
We are not opposed to offering a hand up to our less fortunate citizens in need. But from our first hand experience most of these homeless arrive from all corners of the state and beyond. Many from other cities and towns social services agencies that give them free bus ticket to New London. Because other cities have learned to solve their homeless problem for the cost of a bus ticket - to New London, since we accept anyone all the time.

We also have a "wet" shelter, meaning our city "clients" can be under the influence of alcohol or drugs as long as they are not in immediate need of medical attention and don't cause problems with others - it's ok! Is that why it was named Hospitality Center? Of course the negative results to this hospitality to us normal taxpayers are a lot of calls for emergency services and a downtown chock full of drifters and grifters causing a weary public suspicious of promised solutions that never seems to go away by the daily circus of quality of life issues throughout the city while waiting to bed down at the shelters each night.

With municipal elections just four months away, we are interested in what specific platforms candidates will take for the police department. Any ideas must include demonstrable plans to increase staffing to at least 80 officers to comply with City ordinance. The City agreed to implement two K9 teams in FY17-18 and additional two teams in 18-19.
We need critical infrastructure improvements at the PD and new cruisers. It's been over 10 years since OSS Consultants looked at PD operations. In that study they recommended 118 officers based on the number of calls for service and severity of crimes reported. Perhaps a new look from unbiased outside police executives is in order to see where we are and we need to be.

Speaking of SNAFU's - our old police cars are new again, as our newest cruisers from 2015 approach 60,000 miles and 300,000 hours running time. This unprecedented pace is leading to premature lifecycle failure. Since few if any new cruisers are on the horizon for the patrol division we have returned our vintage high mileage fleet of 2009-2011 Crown Victoria's to front line cars again.
These old war horses were meant to be replaced by the 2015 models. Our members fear catastrophic failure is a distinct possibility while on a high priority call since these old cars that have questionable repair histories suffering from New London deferred maintenance protocols to save money and no longer considered reliable by our officers.

The war on police continues with over 70 police officers killed since January 1, a 9% increase over 2016. Additionally over 50,000 police officers were assaulted in the US ranging from pushing them to shooting them and causing injuries. People now are more willing to engage the police in combat. Last year approximately 50,000 law enforcement officers were assaulted, that ran the gamut from pushing them to shooting them and causing disabling injuries.

Here in Connecticut a report by the Office of Legislative Research shows the number of assaults against police officers has averaged around 800 per year. (http://www.cga.ct.gov/2009/rpt/2009-R-0463.htm.) Approximately 28% of those cases resulted in outcome of guilty. On top of that Connecticut has one of the most lenient penalties for assaulting police compared to all New England and surrounding states. Ask any career criminal where they want to do their prison sentence, they all say Connecticut. Easy time and shorter sentences compared to New York , New Jersey or Massachusetts. We can thank Dan Malloy and former Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Mike Lawlor for the hard left turn soft on crime approach.

Meanwhile in Chicago as of July 22 there have been over 363 shooting homicides and 1703 people wounded including six police officers, all but 18 of the victims were black or brown. That number averages to 58 murders and 271 wounded per month. of the 2051 shootings to date- 18 of these shootings were police related resulting in six officers wounded, nine suspects killed and 9 wounded. At the same time Chicago Black Lives Matter proclaims they exist end state violence and criminalization of Black communities by deconstructing white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy. Well that certainly sounds fashionably progressive. Just think how much more this movement could achieve if they focused on more obvious issues in their community such as: black unemployment, educational achievement, single motherhood, household income, poverty rates, black on black crime and drug abuse.

 

 

 

2017 SAILFEST WRAP UP

As our overworked New London officers continued to soldier on without a contract the most distressed city in the state needlessly spent an estimated $125,000 underwriting a drunken weekend party called Sailfest 40th weekend. Some of those expenses were for an estimated 1100 law enforcement man hours. New London Police utilized over 750 man hours while our mutual aid police agencies added another 425 hours. A big thanks to our mutual aid brother and sister officers!

That now gone forever money could have hired a new police officer, purchased badly needed new police cruisers, fixed broken police cell blocks, allowed for the promotions of needed detectives and sergeants and or fixed the many broken computer applications. Instead we have tired cops, foggy memories and a dirty downtown.

The crowds were bigger, bolder, drunker and rowdier this year with many fights Saturday night. The Bank Street fights started before the first shell even was launched. We applaud the Mayor for taking a stroll down Bank Street at 1230 am to see firsthand the underbelly of Sailfest after the fireworks crowds, Day reporters and event organizers have gone home and what type of crowds and behaviors remain behind for the exhausted police to deal with. Fortunately none of our personnel were hurt this year.

Reviews from social media comments ranged from the positive: "loved it as always , It was nice this year, Thanks to Foxwoods, and the city of New London for a great Saturday!!!" to the negative: "Too many people in a small space …If you want this event to continue with good cash flow then get rid of the punks Every year there are less and less vendors. ..Nothing really fun about it….Horrible event. Kids smoking pot everywhere and cops doing nothing about it. Everyone else blowing smoke in your face and dropping every profanity known to man. Young girls dresses like prostitutes and men all over them. Will never even think about doing that again. It has nothing to do with sailing…To many punks on l side looking for fights etc.sad.... bunch of stupid drunk people talking crap and starting fights…Crowd and traffic control afterward was non-existent. It was a free for all!.. After the fireworks were over walked the creepy dark state street to where our car was parked, can't figure out why new London wants to keep their streets unlit. Not a safe feeling being in downtown NL"

It reminds us of The Day's Rethink Sailfest story published on 7/13/06 which read in part, "New London needs to rethink seriously the Sailfest. There may not be an obvious answer to the problem of huge crowds on Saturday when there are fireworks, but it's clear that public safety personnel were overwhelmed and the potential for future serious injuries is evident.. Is the event worth the potential trouble?" We offer the suggestion since we are the majority underwriter of the event, make it like Hartford's Riverfest, a Saturday night only fireworks event with food vendors. No midway carnival rides and keep streets clear of bazaar vendors. If Sailfest organizers don't want a scaled back event then fully fund it themselves.

We want to offer a special thank you to Mayor Mike Passero and Chief Administrative Officer Steve Fields who came to the Police Department Saturday afternoon on their own time to cook for all the local and mutual aid police officers prior to fireworks assignments. Their efforts have not gone un-noticed and were greatly appreciated. Thanks are also in order for Chief Pete Reichard who set aside expense money to buy more than enough food for our troops. A shout out to our dispatchers and secretaries who made some fantastic meatballs, stuffed clams and assorted salads.


On Fireworks night Amtrak police mutual aid officers held their own roll call at their South Water Street Command Center where they honored the pending retirements of Sergeants Jim Moran and Bill Bessette for their dedication of over 60 years of combined police service. Both spent many years working in and around New London and are congratulated for a job well done.

It reminds us of Paul Harvey's explanation of police retirement: " When a good cop leaves the 'job' and retires to a better life, many are jealous, some are pleased and yet others, who may have already retired, wonder. We wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience it will remain a longing for the past times. We know in the law enforcement life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the uniforms are hung up in the back of the closet. We know even if he throws them away, hey will be on him every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very being of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is…So what we wish for both of you is that you ease into retirement, in your heart you never forget for one moment that 'Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be calls the children of God' and you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known ".

With any big event brings out politics. With municipal elections on the horizon former councilors John Maynard and Marty Olsen have expressed their desires to return to City Council. It is safe to say some incumbents will not return. We applaud anyone seeking to serve their community. But our needs are critical and merely saying "I support the police" are hollow sound bites. We seek candidates that can identify our problems and enact solutions. We look forward to candidates who plan to support us with actions and not words.

 



 


   


Why Political Action

THE DECISIONS that a legislative body makes, whether it is a school board, city council, county board, state legislature, or the U.S. Congress, affect AFSCME members and their families in dramatic ways.

Elected officials vote on budgets that affect employee wages, benefits, working conditions and pensions. They vote on issues of particular concern to AFSCME members, like privatization, and they vote on broader issues of concern to all working families, such as health care reform and workers' compensation. That's why working people need to have allies among elected officials. And that's why working people need to work to elect these allies.

The Local 724 executive board has the collective responsibility to provide vision and direction for the local. It is up to the leadership team to look ahead, set goals and develop a plan to make strategic planning a critical element to having a strong union which can only come about when membership is informed, educated and active.

Unions can never hope to match the hundreds of millions of dollars big business pours into every election. But working people have superior numbers, so they can get out in the streets and work for candidates. And if members pool their cash, unions can help make sure that their endorsed candidates have enough funds to compete against business-backed opponents in the ever-more important media ad wars.

Through the political process we can be involved in setting important public policy. Through the political process public employees can elect representatives who are sensitive to maintaining vital public services and committed to dealing with workers fairly.

Local 724 accomplishes this through political action in conjunction with the exercise of collective bargaining process, growth and community involvement to produce a just and rewarding workplace.

   

Local 724 gets recognized on the national level!

On January 28, 2011 at the Council 4 Campaign for the Middle Class Seminar in Meriden The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO thanked the New London Police Union- Local 724 for their efforts in the Labor 2010 campaign.

Lee Saunders, International Secretary-Treasurer and AFSCME Council 4's Sal Luciano who is also an International Vice President honored Local 724 with a certificate "In recognition of their tireless work and commitment during the 2010 State of Connecticut general elections". To this day labor leaders throughout the state continue to praise our Malloy/Wyman Pre-Debate Rally as a new benchmark of what local labor can achieve when committed to a goal.

Chuck Flynn was honored to accept the award on behalf of our entire membership which will hang proudly in the 724 "Hall of Justice". I want to personally thank everyone that participated in some way no matter how big or small. Our election success was due to the collective efforts of our TEAM-Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

 


724 helps East Lyme fight the cause

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Political Director C Flynn

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