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John K. Bennett

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The Untold Story Of Police Concessions: When Is Too Much Enough?

Posted: 01/25/2012 4:52 pm

Ask anybody who's been around the police department or a police officer for more than a minute and they will tell you how tumultuous the relationship between the city and its public safety unions has been for decades.

They will relay to you the battles between the unions and mayors from Cavanaugh to Bing. They will share with you the decades of always being recognized as the lowest paid police department in the State of Michigan; how COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) was lost under Mayor Young and officers were laid off anyway after agreeing to a 10 percent cut.

Here we are again with the City of Detroit once again in crisis and once again the focus has turned to gutting public safety to save the city from the disaster, created and nurtured by its political fathers past and present. They have forgotten as quickly as the ink dried that the rank and file police officers negotiated and agreed to a deal last September that will save the city of Detroit a reported $100 million over the next five years. That agreement was hailed as historic by Mayor Bing. The Detroit News called it rare because the pension changes affect active members of the police department.

Officers voluntarily agreed:

  • All new hires will be placed in a pension defined contribution plan, thus reducing significantly the city's contribution for new hire pension by millions of dollars.
  • The DPOA agreed to reduce the pension multiplier of current police officers for future years of service which will result in the city paying less into the pension fund. The reduced multiplier means nearly a 20 percent cut in retiree benefits for future years of service for all current officers.
  • Detroit Police Officers have agreed to wage freeze through June 30, 2012 and have not received a wage increase since July 1, 2008.
  • The pension defined benefit escalator which helps offset inflation for retirees has been eliminated. The elimination of the escalator benefit means the city will contribute less to the pension plan.
  • The DPOA membership agreed to a 20 percent insurance co-pay which on average requires a police officer to contribute approximately110 biweekly for his/her health insurance.
  • The DPOA gave up police officer jobs in the district court that they have filled for many years. The civilization of the district court will save the city thousands of dollars by replacing police officers with non-uniform employees. The DPOAs agreement to civilianize the district court provides an opportunity to get more police officers on the street.

These are all significant concessions that the lowest ranking officers within the police department have negotiated in an effort to help Detroit through its crisis. Contrary to the misinformation spread by former police executive, now City Councilman Gary Brown, there are only three unions that represent uniform personnel in the police department. They are DPOA, DPLSA and DPCOA. The DPOA has sacrificed enough.

President of the DPOA Joseph Duncan said, "You would think that before the city asked for more from its police officers that other employees would be required to assume some of the major concessions that the DPOA has already gone along with."

Brown has made misleading statements to the media regarding the police department such as saying that there are five police unions the city of Detroit must negotiate with. His rhetoric has been inflaming and harmful to any future negotiations between police unions and the Bing administration.

Here are some other points you should be made aware of from DPOA President Joseph Duncan, in his letter to members:

Best Practice/City Council

The DPOA has requested information from the city as to whether they have applied for state best practice money. The state wants the DPOA to pay $1,000 to get the information whether the city has even applied for best practice money. The DPOA concessions regarding pension, insurance, and wage freeze meet state requirements to get best practice dollars. According to the city they were able to recoup $9 million (best practice) from the state that money should be use to off set the any concessions demanded by the city.

The City Council, where each member has a budget of $700,000 or more has refused to cut their budget. Yet they come after the DPOA members for more give backs.

Safety

Approximately five years ago there were 2,335 police officers, currently the manpower level is at approximately 2,100 police officers. The delivery of police services is at a breaking point. Fewer police officers create a danger, not only for themselves but for the citizens they work to protect. What will be the impact on Detroit police officers if the city of Detroit demands are granted? The city wants nearly $28 million taken from Detroit Police Officers. It would cost an average police officer over $13,000 a year to achieve the city's concessionary demands. It is not difficult to imagine how destructive a $13,000 plus cut would be. Detroit police officers are paid less than their suburban counterparts and rank at the bottom of compensation comparisons to other large cities.

Contract Terms That Could Be Negotiated

Despite the above, the DPOA is prepared to discuss other means of saving the city money. There are areas that I am willing to review wherein the city could realize saving with minimal impact to the membership, provided the benefits pop up at the expiration of any agreed upon contract extension. Any attempt to negotiate would require an agreement from the state that if the DPOA agreed with more concessions that a state appointed emergency manager and/or bankruptcy could not ask for more from the DPOA members.

History has will bare out that each time the city of Detroit finds itself in a financial crisis there is a push to balance the books on the backs of public safety. At some point you would think someone would be intelligent enough to see that this construct hasn't worked and will not.

There is a nexus between the declining populace in Detroit and the lack of quality city services, namely public safety. As citizens if we continue to allow the intellectually bankrupt to make decisions that are harmful to our quality of life, we the citizens of Detroit will evaporate a lot quicker than you can say bankruptcy.

Ask anybody who's been around the police department or a police officer for more than a minute and they will tell you how tumultuous the relationship between the city and its public safety unions has been for decades.

They will relay to you the battles between the unions and mayors from Cavanaugh to Bing. They will share with you the decades of always being recognized as the lowest paid police department in the State of Michigan; how COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) was lost under Mayor Young and officers were laid off anyway after agreeing to a 10 percent cut.

Here we are again with the City of Detroit once again in crisis and once again the focus has turned to gutting public safety to save the city from the disaster, created and nurtured by its political fathers past and present. They have forgotten as quickly as the ink dried that the rank and file police officers negotiated and agreed to a deal last September that will save the city of Detroit a reported $100 million over the next five years. That agreement was hailed as historic by Mayor Bing. The Detroit News called it rare because the pension changes affect active members of the police department.

Officers voluntarily agreed:

  • All new hires will be placed in a pension defined contribution plan, thus reducing significantly the city's contribution for new hire pension by millions of dollars.
  • The DPOA agreed to reduce the pension multiplier of current police officers for future years of service which will result in the city paying less into the pension fund. The reduced multiplier means nearly a 20 percent cut in retiree benefits for future years of service for all current officers.
  • Detroit Police Officers have agreed to wage freeze through June 30, 2012 and have not received a wage increase since July 1, 2008.
  • The pension defined benefit escalator which helps offset inflation for retirees has been eliminated. The elimination of the escalator benefit means the city will contribute less to the pension plan.
  • The DPOA membership agreed to a 20 percent insurance co-pay which on average requires a police officer to contribute approximately110 biweekly for his/her health insurance.
  • The DPOA gave up police officer jobs in the district court that they have filled for many years. The civilization of the district court will save the city thousands of dollars by replacing police officers with non-uniform employees. The DPOAs agreement to civilianize the district court provides an opportunity to get more police officers on the street.

These are all significant concessions that the lowest ranking officers within the police department have negotiated in an effort to help Detroit through its crisis. Contrary to the misinformation spread by former police executive, now City Councilman Gary Brown, there are only three unions that represent uniform personnel in the police department. They are DPOA, DPLSA and DPCOA. The DPOA has sacrificed enough.

President of the DPOA Joseph Duncan said, "You would think that before the city asked for more from its police officers that other employees would be required to assume some of the major concessions that the DPOA has already gone along with."

Brown has made misleading statements to the media regarding the police department such as saying that there are five police unions the city of Detroit must negotiate with. His rhetoric has been inflaming and harmful to any future negotiations between police unions and the Bing administration.

Here are some other points you should be made aware of from DPOA President Joseph Duncan, in his letter to members:

Best Practice/City Council

The DPOA has requested information from the city as to whether they have applied for state best practice money. The state wants the DPOA to pay $1,000 to get the information whether the city has even applied for best practice money. The DPOA concessions regarding pension, insurance, and wage freeze meet state requirements to get best practice dollars. According to the city they were able to recoup $9 million (best practice) from the state that money should be use to off set the any concessions demanded by the city.

The City Council, where each member has a budget of $700,000 or more has refused to cut their budget. Yet they come after the DPOA members for more give backs.

Safety

Approximately five years ago there were 2,335 police officers, currently the manpower level is at approximately 2,100 police officers. The delivery of police services is at a breaking point. Fewer police officers create a danger, not only for themselves but for the citizens they work to protect. What will be the impact on Detroit police officers if the city of Detroit demands are granted? The city wants nearly $28 million taken from Detroit Police Officers. It would cost an average police officer over $13,000 a year to achieve the city's concessionary demands. It is not difficult to imagine how destructive a $13,000 plus cut would be. Detroit police officers are paid less than their suburban counterparts and rank at the bottom of compensation comparisons to other large cities.

Contract Terms That Could Be Negotiated

Despite the above, the DPOA is prepared to discuss other means of saving the city money. There are areas that I am willing to review wherein the city could realize saving with minimal impact to the membership, provided the benefits pop up at the expiration of any agreed upon contract extension. Any attempt to negotiate would require an agreement from the state that if the DPOA agreed with more concessions that a state appointed emergency manager and/or bankruptcy could not ask for more from the DPOA members.

History has will bare out that each time the city of Detroit finds itself in a financial crisis there is a push to balance the books on the backs of public safety. At some point you would think someone would be intelligent enough to see that this construct hasn't worked and will not.

There is a nexus between the declining populace in Detroit and the lack of quality city services, namely public safety. As citizens if we continue to allow the intellectually bankrupt to make decisions that are harmful to our quality of life, we the citizens of Detroit will evaporate a lot quicker than you can say bankruptcy.