724 Political News
On December 14, Rich Cable once again took the lead with the help of our friends at Fishers Florist leaving a spray of white flowers at the Angels Playground called "Emilie's Shady Spot" in Riverside Park. The space is dedicated to Emilie Parker a first grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and one of the 26 people murderer seven years ago in 2012. Thank you Rich. May Emilie's spirit live on in all of New London.
We salute Sgt. Neil Rodgers, S/Sgt. Larry Keating, Officers John Green and Ryan Soccio for their participation in the 24th annual TVCCA Annual Boot Drive providing new winter boots to children of low income families living throughout New London County. Officers delivered boots to Regional Multicultural Magnet School, TVCCA Little Learners Early Education Program, TVCCA Early Head Start Program, and Winthrop STEM Elementary Magnet School.
Deana and husband Firefighter Joe Nott once again put smiles on many children
this Christmas with another successful FD/PD holiday toy drive providing
presents to 45 families while Sgt. Max Bertsch helped deliver delicious
meals prepared by NLPD Whaler Café Chef Thom to 25 families.
Kurt served the department for over 10 years with his perfect pitch Spanish skills has decided to return to graduate school and become a mental health counselor focusing on police and first responders. Keith a former K9 handler retires after 25 years, almost 19 of them as detective. Keith looks forward to no longer getting called out in the middle of the night for another grisly crime scene. His extensive forensic technology knowledge will leave the agency with big shoes to fill as he leaves for a new job utilizing his skills in the private sector. Good luck gentlemen and thank you for your service!
While our ranks have dropped to a dangerously low 67 sworn officers -15 less than minimum staffing law and 33 less than we had 10 years ago - the calls for services continues. Here is a snapshot of just some of the many calls for police/fire services responded to in 2019: 700 calls for domestic violence, 1,200 disturbances, 161 assaults, 52, robberies, 100 burglaries, 182 missing persons, 126 weapons calls, 1,890 suspicious persons, 1,000 motor vehicle accidents, 2,000 alarms, 330 intoxicated persons, 592 crisis interventions and 94 drug overdoses.
Our benchmark for low of staffing is 1964 when had 64 sworn officers. Times have certainly changed with the many demands for police services exploding in the last 55 years but we still have same staffing. Doing way too much with much too few. In one word - unsafe! Does anyone else see a problem here?
These calls included responding to New London's most infamous tax exempt organization the 41 bed Homeless Hospitality Center. HHC describes their mission as, "works to make every person feel welcome and recognized as a unique individual with his/her own story and goals." They pay nothing with another year of continued high daily demand of call volume topping out at 725 calls. That's up 16% from 2018! So tell us again how welcoming HHC clients are. Another words, every out of town problem lands on our door step and is now our problem.
Over the last two years, the New London Police Department has responded to almost 4,000 alarm calls. Of these alarms, over 99.3% were false due to accident or negligence. These false alarms amount to 5,400 wasted man hours that divert law enforcement resources from crimes in progress, proactive patrolling and from other emergency situations. If false alarms were reduced, officers would be able to spend more time in the community addressing crime and nuisance issues.
Beginning now, all structures equipped with a monitored alarm system (residences, commercial, churches, schools, etc.) are required to have their alarm systems registered with the city. Alarm registrations began December 1, 2019 and all alarms will have to be registered by January 1, 2020 or risk a fine. The City will begin levying fines on alarm systems that have more than 2 false activations per calendar year. The fines range from $25 for the 3rd false alarm to $250 for the sixth and subsequent false alarms in a calendar year. Reducing false alarms will not only increase public safety and save the City of New London thousands of dollars per year, but it will also protect the officers who risk their lives responding to false alarms. All we can add, it's about time!
There were 129 police officers killed in the line of duty in 2019 compared to 166 in 2018 a 22% decrease. 119 were male, 10 female. Average age was 44 with average tour of duty was 14 years and 1 month. The deadliest states were Texas (17) followed by New York (14) and California (10). Too many brave men and women were killed protecting life and property in a country that seems to us has turned it's backs on police officers and the jobs they do. We mourn their loss and extend our sympathies to each officer's family. We remind everyone police lives matter too. May 2020 be a safer year for police officers everywhere.
Recently Attorney General Bill Barr wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Post highlighting "there is no tougher job in the country than serving as a law enforcement officer never knowing what threats and trials they face each day so the rest of us can sleep peacefully each night. It's only getting harder since police must now handle the fallout from a vast range of social pathologies once the domain of social workers. Assaults against police jumped 20 percent from 2014-2017 to about 60,00 a year".
Barr added "as demands on police have become more intense, recruiting
and retention of high caliber officers have become a nationwide challenge.
The number of full time sworn officers has dropped 11 percent in the last
20 years as the number of applicants has significantly decreased and many
officers leave prior to retirement age. Without a serious focus on officer
retention and recruitment including a renewed appreciation for men and
women in blue, there won't be enough police to protect us".
Last year's capital improvement budget submitted to the Mayor included funding to transition to a new Glock pistol, Tasers CEW for each officer, technology upgrades, facility improvements and new support vehicles. While we did transition to new weapons and the 23 month long work continues on repairing the shift commander's office, we never got new cars in 2019 although in the last few weeks seven new cars were approved. Whenever they arrive the rest of the fleet remains tired and worn out. Most importantly our staffing is once again critical condition with whispers of more seeking opportunities elsewhere.
Several years ago Union leadership suggested the City utilize $100-150k per year from the $700k plus private duty revenues the city earn from private duty assignments to self sustain yearly upgrading of the police fleet with 3-4 new cars per year instead of just feeding general fund. In government if you don't like an idea you call for a study until it's forgotten which is exactly what the City did. The result - an idea that never went anywhere as our fleet disintegrates.
Our last finance director on his way out the door played with 2019-2020 budget numbers cutting financial corners by ignoring to fund officers accrued leave accounts. When officers separated from service with terminal leave provisions this past fiscal year the city had not set aside funding required to pay those that had separated from service. As a result terminal leave is being funded from salaried positions preventing us from hiring replacements.
Is the core issue that we can't or won't strive for excellence and get it right the first time or severe budget constraints force us to look no further than accepting mediocrity as status quo? What can we do differently to achieve better outcomes? In order to provide the right solution we need to accurately identify the problem. Putting band aids on arterial bleeds might help but certainly doesn't solve the patients problem.
off to the fire department on their successful recruitment boosting their
staffing numbers during 2019 and their last minute public presentation
of their critical need for new apparatus resulting in an alarmingly quick
award of $1.85 million. Clearly their message was heard better than ours.
We can't be mad at them, their good luck was indeed the result of preparation
Could it be some people within City Hall have implicit bias which causes them to favor the fire department or education over public safety? We have plenty of questions but few answers . What we do know is there exists a disconnect on our member issues and that is the first place we need to fix.
our 2020 New Year's resolution is to be stronger advocates for our members,
we need to do better. With a stronger will, more decisiveness and better
preparedness presenting clear, precise cases we hope will focus on actually
solving problems rather than just managing them. In our arsenal will be
the City's kryptonite - facts. Every New London story is ruined when facts
are added. We will fight tirelessly for what we believe in but will not
use this energy for selfish gain instead we will act with conviction,
imagination and creativity to create advantages for our membership. So
let our continuing journey of new struggles begin in earnest with a
While few would disagree that Connecticut infrastructure is in horrible
shape and desperate for upgrades but unable to find needed money for those
projects that tolls would provide if designated exclusively for transportation
projects. However, the lack of trust most taxpayers have towards the Legislature
believing every politician will continue to loot the Special Transportation
Fund (STF) and piss this new toll money quicker than they can get it resulting
in few if any new dollars to meet new transportation funding needs.. Moreover,
too many taxpayers believe once toll gantries are installed just a simple
flip of the switch will be all it takes to start tolling on cars. It's
not a question of if they toll cars ,rather when.
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.
724 gets recognized on the national level!