Local 724 Political News
Political Director Chuck Flynn

MARCH UPDATE

March begins as we pause to honor 61 police officers who have lost their lives in 2021, a number that is 177% higher than the same time in 2020. 34 of those deaths were from COVID-19. While many anti police activists locally and nationwide continue their rants of “fuck the police”, our officers continue to willingly go into harm’s way  every shift, every day responding to calls regardless of who needs the help.

Meanwhile our usual cadres of woke progressives, activist kids, vegetable growers and anarchists cop and authority haters continue to vilify our department in their ongoing cancel culture war, especially now at budget season. Demands to city councilors include eliminate 80 sworn police personnel city ordinance and adopt a “people’s budget” with a 35% reduction directly from the police department.  If successful our current $11.5 million budget would be reduced by $3.85 million.

To suggest police budgets are wasteful or increased police funding only increases police violence is a great talking point but far from the truth. Substantial empirical evidence indicates that more cops on the beat means less crime on the street. Insisting new social service revenues must come at the expense of police is naïve. We support renewed investment in social services and agree police are the default response for way too many issues. When you call the police you get a police response.

To borrow a quote from A Few Good Men, [police] “have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom….you curse the [police]. You have that luxury.”  With no reliable mechanisms for alternative services in place substituting police officers we don’t have the luxury or ability to ignore calls for service; it’s our duty to respond.  

So what would 35% decrease look like? An overwhelming majority of our budget covers personnel costs resulting in potential layoffs of 38 police officers leaving just 36 officers in the entire department from Chief to most junior patrol officer covering the city 24/7/365. Police layoffs require the inverse order of seniority, those remaining would seriously reconsider their continued service at NLPD faced with dangerously low staffing, unprecedented call volume and severity.

If they indiscriminately defund police, cuts NLPD will have lost over 66% of manpower in the last 10 years not to mention no money left for training on important issues the public demands like: de-escalation, implicit bias, use of force to name just a few. Less police will have a disproportionate impact on our neighborhoods that actually need them the most.

Defunding means potentially just three officers on the street per shift for the entire city.   When response times start getting longer that could lead to less effective policing and therefore more disorder and crime. As delays become protracted to a dire level, public safety could be at risk. If the situation becomes that extreme, police leadership will say it’s no longer safe for officers to go into a situation because they don’t have any backup.

Such a scenario would see spiking crime rates, slow 911 response and the  remaining police officers retiring or resigning for other agencies leaving New London a lawless mess. Don’t believe us? Look no further than Seattle, Portland and Minneapolis to name just a few of many examples of how the defund movement is not working across the country.

The defund the police movement had taken hold of the country last year with Black Lives Matter activists demanding police reforms.  In Minneapolis alone they have has seen an uptick in crimes that include daylight car jackings, robberies, assaults, shootings and street racing. Early 2021 crime statistics show a 250% increase in gunshot victims compared to the same period one-year-ago. Rape is up 22% and robbery is up 59% compared to last year. The results of defunding the police were predictable. 

For a peak at what a future New London might look like with these potential draconian police budget cuts we suggest readers watch the Netflix series Flint Town. An eight episode documentary television series which focuses on the thoughts and conflicted emotions of police officers serving to protect urban areas of Flint Michigan struggling with poverty, crime, financially strapped public services. The department captured on-screen is down from 300 officers to 98 for 100,000 people, the lowest number out of comparably sized cities. So grab some popcorn, take a seat and see what’s possible.

So go ahead and listen to the HYV mentors from Smith College with their privileged liberal arts education that costs $75,000 a year (that’s 2.5 times the New London annual per capita income of $28,450) as they prey upon ignorance and raw emotions with their demands to defund us. They are woke and know what best for the rest of us.

However, if they should be successful defunding us you need not fret about us since our officers will extend their best wishes of good luck to the residents and businesses as they take their certified skill set somewhere else. The government you elect is the government you deserve.

Some potentially good news from under the Gold Dome in Hartford, there exists two proposed bills actually trying to insert some common sense solutions into the rushed and messy Public Act 20-1. 

SB-828 proposed by Senator Cathy Osten D-19 from Sprague to amend PA-20-1 with several interesting points: Push the effective dates of the provisions out to June 2022. Require a use of force policy that incorporates standardized curriculum by POST certified instructors. Officers deemed in need of help following mandatory behavioral assessment are offered treatment then reassessed and if needed provided more treatment and then if still not able to perform his or her duties be offered disability retirement. Lastly, that police searches can be allowed after consent is properly given and vehicles may be searched prior to being towed from a scene.

Also proposed Judiciary Committee Raised Bill 6462 for at least an 18 month delay implementing  Section 29 concerning Use of Force of PA 20-1  until October 1, 2022 and clarify language on the use of deadly force in order to revamp training methods especially tactics on de-escalating incidents before they become violent.

Taxes in Connecticut never go away only up and never seem to end up where they were intended. Take for example the Payment in Lieu of Taxes, (PILOT) plan. The program instituted in the 1970’s does not even begin to fully reimburse municipalities for tax liabilities the state and tax-exempt organizations would have if their properties were on the municipal tax rolls. 

The percentage of reimbursement is usually less than 30%. And the state’s reimbursement policy gets even worse in times of fiscal crisis. According to the Office of Legislative Research PILOT funds are proportionately reduced if the state’s annual appropriation is not enough to fully fund them.” In layman’s terms, PILOT is one of the first budget items to be cut when the going gets rough. 

So knowing the program has never worked as intended, our most liberal senator when it comes to taking your money, Martin Looney D-New Haven, is proposing a new grab for your wallet with a statewide “mansion” property tax on the “wealthy” which will instead target middle class homeowners since it would impose an annual levy on all Connecticut residences worth more than $430,000 estimated to bring in $73 million to fund his three tiered PILOT plan.  

Did you know you’re a wealthy land owner? Oh yea, the median house price in CT is just about $440,000 so expect to pay your fair share. 

To us non policy wonks the state wants to take money from property tax which is the primary revenue generator for municipalities. Furthermore, projected revenues of $73 million sounds woefully inadequate, meaning the new tax if imposed will go up as sure as the sun rises every morning over the state capitol.  

While this new PILOT plan sounds promising with the state claiming it will pay 50% of PILOT revenues to our poorest cities with greatest percentage of tax exempt properties. The idea is  giving low income city mayor’s dreams of a new state revenue stream.  But just like anytime the state makes a fiscal promise the plan will fail when legislators redirect these funds to the general fund like they always do for their own pet projects and cover their overspending.

Ronald Regan once said “Government does not tax to get the money it needs; government always finds a need for the money it gets.” 

The views expressed by the author may not necessarily reflect the views of all Local 724 members.

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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.
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