Cops' association scoffs at city staff's proposal for weekends off

Posted: Monday, January 17, 2005

The Public Safety Employees Association has rejected a proposal by the City that claims to offer every police officer at least one weekend day off for at least eight months in a 12-month period.

City and Borough staff brought up the idea during a meeting Friday with representatives of PESA, a group that represents police officers. The two sides also met Jan. 6 to discuss issues related to the change from 12-hour to 8-hour shifts.

"We exchanged a lot of information," Police Chief Gummow said in a press release. "Both sides presented options we believe would ease the transition to the new shifts."

Paul Comolli, PSEA local shop vice president, disagreed. "Neither one of those meetings were productive or informative," he said. "It's not an effort to make us happy. We believe its an effort to appear somewhat benevolent."

The shift change went into effect on Monday, Jan. 10. Officers protested in the months leading up to the transition, arguing that it would create more briefings, remove patrolmen from the streets, allow officers less time with their families and cost the city more money in the long run.

On the day of the change, there was a traffic accident near the Egan Drive retaining wall, Comolli said.

"Everyone was in a briefing," Comolli said. "Nobody was available, only two school officers and a traffic officer who does code enforcement. Those three aren't even in the patrol paradigm."

Under the weekend proposal, officers with the most seniority - those who are allowed first pick for what days they have off - would be given the choice of offering up their weekend days to junior officers. Comolli said it would create in-fighting, as junior officers bid for "scraps of days off."

"One of the officers characterized it as being slapped in the face," Comolli said. "It's not really compensation for what we used to have. What it does do is undermine a cornerstone of collective bargaining - seniority. They want us to bargain away one of the few things we have left. It's making a bad situation much worse."

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