Officers continue to leave for better-paying jobs elsewhere
VICE PRESIDENT’S REPORT – By RON THOMAS
I would like to start off by offering sincere condolences to the families of Cpl. Myron Jarrett, Capt. Ken Steil of the Detroit Police Department and Sgt. Collin Rose of the Wayne State Police Department.
Chief Craig was gracious enough to promote both Jarrett and Steil posthumously. Please bear in mind that these are only ceremonial actions. The DPOA currently is working to have pension benefits for officers killed in the line of duty increased for future officers killed in the line of duty, but this change will take time. Anything we can do for the families of slain officers is never enough.
More time has gone by; hiring and retention is still an issue. Our officers continue to leave for better-paying departments and entities (Seattle, Border Patrol, DEA). Available jobs in law enforcement are at an all-time high due to a national shortage of qualified applicants, and people willing to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Honestly, I don’t blame them. Had I known 20-plus years ago it was going to turn out this way, I wouldn’t have either. These departments and entities all have the same things in common: better pay, better retirement plans, RETIREE HEALTHCARE, better equipment, better training, etc. Yet the city continues to drag its feet and the numbers continue to dwindle. It makes no logical sense for an officer to stay, when they have to go work a second career for 20-plus years so they can have RETIREE HEALTHCARE for the member and their spouse.
When Jones Day came and raped municipal employees of OPEBs (other post employment benefits), the reasoning was we will all be covered under the ACA (Affordable Healthcare Act). Now with “proposed” changes to ACA, and the possible repeal of the act, will RETIREE HEALTHCARE be restored? Don’t hold your breath.
Like I said before, officers are only a number to this organization. Certain promises were made when we were ALL hired and they continue to break their promises. Nothing Jones Day and the bankruptcy did were employee friendly. Hell, they didn’t care, not like they were going to stay here after that. They collected their money and moved on to the next location. Now we are left trying to piece it back together.
Changes to the contract that may work well in the private sector just do not work here. Yes, we have been able to make some changes and modifications here and there, but the major restorations take years to correct.
One thing I have noticed recently is “patrol,” the backbone of police work, is where a majority of discipline comes from. Not only are they the most overworked part of our membership, they are the most scrutinized and monitored by the Department.
Patrol is the most underappreciated essential function that we provide. For the last three years, we have heard the same old BS about obtaining a pay increase/patrol bonus for our front-line police officers, who unselfishly put their lives on the line every day, but that remains unfulfilled.
I have to remind members that we have two full-time attorneys that work directly out of the DPOA office. When served with a Garrity Notice, immediately contact the DPOA office, and your steward, to ensure you will have an attorney present during your interview. Make sure you provide them with the date, time and location of the interview.
Refrain from attending these interviews without an attorney. Whether you are the focus or not, things can quickly change during your interview and make you the focus. Do not put yourself in that situation. Legal representation is provided by the Association, and it is your best interest to take advantage of that. The attorneys can also assist you with any questions you may have.
There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding exactly when Garrity rights are attached. Majority of supervisors do not understand Garrity themselves. When involved in a shooting, or anything similar in nature, and you are “ordered” to answer questions, those responses CANNOT be used against you for criminal proceedings because you are being compelled to answer those questions under conditions of employment. When you are in doubt, simply ask if you are being “ordered” to answer.
Most supervisors think that they are putting you under some type of duress by ordering you to answer questions, but if they understood Garrity V. New Jersey, they would know it is actually protecting your rights. Under NO circumstances can an investigator, detective or corporal “order” you to answer any question.
Investigators, detectives and corporals have no supervisory powers, nor can they order you to do anything. It is imperative that officers understand that to better protect your rights. Regardless of the relationship that you have with your supervisor, please adhere to these rights. Don’t let your supervisor put him, or herself, in a position where they have to unwillingly testify against you because they unknowingly made that mistake.
In closing I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and continue to take care and watch over each other. In times like this it is imperative. If you see someone on a traffic stop, check up on them and make sure they are OK. It only takes a moment. It’s better to be safe, and back each other up, rather than wishing you had. Stay safe.