Local 724 Political News
Political Director Chuck Flynn
As we enter a new month we say goodbye to another veteran NLPD officer. This time Wayne Neff decided to retire after 25 years of dedicated service. Wayne was a regular fixture on the midnight shift and known as Mr. Ocean Beach for the crazy amount of overtime beach assignments he worked during the summer.
Wayne is a long time emergency medical technician who often beat the fire department to many serious injury scenes he provided countless life saving first aid over his career. His retirement is another great loss for New London as he prepares for a second police job in the suburbs. Good luck Wayne, thank you for your service.
Congratulations to Rob Pickett on his new assignment as Detective Lieutenant effective May 1st. He will assist police administration with a back log of employment background investigations. Rob an accomplished 27-year member of the force previously served two years as Detective Sergeant before his promotion to patrol Lieutenant in 2017. He is well respected both inside the department and with outside agencies. We wish him good luck in his new assignment.
New London citizens successfully presented the City with a petition for Councilors to rescind their repeal of the 80 police manpower ordinance or have referendum on the issue. The timing of the petition foiled Councils from defunding established agency positions for the next fiscal year. Not to be derailed from their master defunding plan they instead cut $500,000 in next year’s overtime budget.
Overtime is used to fill vacancies due to injury, illness, vacation, training, attrition and special events to ensure 5 sector cars on the road per shift. With 2/3 of the OT budget slashed, vacancies and special city events will go understaffed or unfilled.
At the time of this publication three more officers are also exploring transfers to suburban police agencies or out of police work entirely while five veteran officers consider retirement options.
If the exodus of personnel continues it may require elimination of some calls for police services that will certainly be felt by the public because we simply can’t replace officers quickly due to a shrinking pool of applicants, lengthy hiring process and academy training requirements.
Over the last year we have heard daily demands for defunding police from anti police critics because of a multitude of reasons including over policing resulting in a pipeline to prison. It leads us to the question, what is over policing? Well it seems the answer is elusive and depends on who you ask.
Activists often repeat, “if all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal”. They also complain the American way of life, now involves “solving” all social problems (and even some non-problems) by throwing cops at them especially in minority communities.
“Pro Justice” folks believe police should ignore all minor offenses such as traffic violations that do not involve any damage or injury, littering, possession of small amounts of illegal drugs, fishing or hunting without a license, jaywalking, loitering, drinking in public, panhandling, loud noise complaints or riding public transportation without paying a fare. They don’t see these crimes as neighborhood quality of life annoyances rather it is used simply to give police a pre textual reason to investigate other criminality to put people in prison. They prefer to call criminals who break the law just making simple mistakes to be forgotten.
Not to be outdone radical Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s recent calls for “No more policing, incarceration and militarization it can’t be reformed”. Well that thought certainly exposes the far left’s opinion of all police. The exception for Tliab being the United States Capitol Police who protect her while she bravely hides behind fencing surrounding the Capitol and National Guard soldiers.
Moderates have a simpler answer that defines over policing as to police excessively, as by maintaining a large police presence or by responding aggressively to minor quality of life offenses. Pro public safety citizens want law and order, without order there is chaos.
They believe in the broken windows theory if small crimes are ignored they result in more criminality. A police officer’s duty is to enforce the laws passed by legislative action by your elected representatives. If people don’t want these laws enforced go back to your representatives to have them changed.
Strange how all the progressives reminded us during the Trump impeachment proceedings that “nobody is above the law”. What they really meant was only when it suits them and their political agenda.
Here in New London city councilors and their supporters have offered various word salads trying to explain their positions which appears to come back to some sort of over policing problem without specificity.
The Union has pushed back on these critics for falsely comparing New London’s population to three towns of their choosing (Westport, Cheshire and Newtown) as basis to reduce police officer size. When in reality New London has exponentially more calls for service that those towns. New London averages 70,000 calls for service a year.
When we talk New London we are curious how maintaining five police officers per shift for the entire city is over policing?
We must ask what specific local examples – here in New London – are activists referring to illustrates their over policing problem? Nobody ever provides us an answer, just keep parroting problems seen in cities across the nation.
We can state unequivocally most calls for service are initiated by the public, not by the officers. We don’t have School Resource Officers so all police calls to the schools are prompted by school administrators or parents themselves wanting a police response for their school related incidents that may result in enforcement action taken.
When officers do respond to calls for service many require two officers be utilized leaving less officers on the street. We hardly have the time or manpower to proactively self initiate enforcement of many minor crimes. But we do respond to citizen complaints reporting minor crimes in their neighborhoods
So what is the number of cops you want on the street? Too few police exacerbates the dangers of under-policing and would just get worse in our high crime neighborhoods .
So is the message that every arrest is unnecessary and must be labeled racist? That no crime requires incarceration? That probation and parole (which are alternatives to incarceration) only serves as sling shot for people of color back to prison? Is there no personal responsibility required to stay out of trouble? Is it more convenient and expedient to insist that any arrest or conviction is a result of a system rigged against every criminal?
The Union continues to insist the city use real data to have an “intelligent conversation” on what the manpower needs are then decide what kind of public safety you want and police services you expect before any slash and burn actions.
We find it strange that all the talk of building bridges and having more conversations with the community has not included any of our personnel. Without a collaborative effort by all parties how can a workable solution be reached? How does that make the police department more effective? It seems councilors prefer an echo chamber of like minded folks to decide the issue.
For that reason we maintain our position that council authorize an independent study to determine what police manpower should be and move forward from there with discussions and deliberations on what a reasonable and properly funded police department should be. We are certain the facts will confirm our position.
Ignoring our request for a police department review only confirms our suspicions that Councilors have a biased end game to cut police funding based on assumptions that won’t be supported by facts. Instead they continue to deflect the issue relying on false narrative and bloviate their hurt feelings for being called out instead.
Recently social media trolls, many of whom are not New London residents and some living in states across the country have pushed back on that idea with the rationale that any “experts” would only compare New London to other “overly policed jurisdictions” resulting in a number that “only supports over policing”. Another words, the anti police critics don’t need objective independent facts getting in the way of their defund police objectives. They intend to defund by any means necessary.
Meanwhile proponents of a” People’s Budget” insist the community be equitably funded as only they imagine it. They complained too much money goes to police and not enough to other entities especially education.
Back to those pesky facts: NLPD’s proposed budget for FY21-22 is $12.28 million an increase of 0.95% while BOE’s budget is $72.9 million, a 2.2% or a $982,188 increase over last year. However, our People’s Budget wizards of smart claim $36 million of BOE budget is state Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funds therefore not really from New London taxpayers so ignore the $72 million figure.
Our hyper woke citizens demand we defund the police to fund an education budget already six times larger than the police. Maybe it’s time for the woke to take a nap.
New London has continuously ranked as one of the worst performing school districts in the state. How much more money do you throw at the Board of Education problem expecting a different outcome before you realize more money is not the solution?
Our first hand experience finds a quiet majority of New Londoners of all backgrounds and diversity have been friendly and respectful to our officers. In fact many go out of their way telling us they support the police and glad to see us out there.
Remember November 2021 is next municipal elections – all council seats are up for re-election. If residents are tired of this progressive city council – vote them out! Seat moderate candidates that will represent everyone.
The views expressed by the author may not necessarily reflect the views of all Local 724 members.