Harp Looks To Woo Retired Suburban Cops

Christopher Peak PhotoHemorrhaging younger cops to the suburbs, New Haven is looking to pluck suburban retirees to help build its force back up.

Harp administration officials plan to meet Wednesday to explore the idea, which would involve creating a new category of “certified police officer” to allow for “lateral” hires of experienced officers who don’t need to go through the academy.

Mayor Toni Harp said officials have batted the idea around for four years. Now, with a continuing cascade of resignations and retirements, she has directed her human recourses and police departments to focus on getting it done.

“I finally decided to put my foot down and said: ‘It’s got to happen,’” Harp said during her most recent appearance on WNHH FM’s “Mayor Monday” program.

“How do we police the city when we have so many people leaving? ... If we can get officers who are young and retired and still want to do this work from other towns, that will help.”

The directive comes at a time of what many inside the department consider a staffing crisis. The department has 495 positions. Only 403 of those positions are currently filled, according to Chief Anthony Campbell. And that includes 28 cadets at the training academy, who won’t be ready to patrol streets until the end of June. It also includes people out on administrative leave.

Campbell said he expects another 30-50 cops to resign or retire in coming months.

(Another 17 officers are currently in training at other academies, and another class will start at New Haven’s academy in March, Campbell said.)

Meanwhile, officers have been squeezed on some shifts trying to respond to all the calls. Police overtime is running double budgeted levels.

Several factors have led to the force’s diminution, including:

Active recruiting efforts of younger cops by suburban departments, who offer more money and better benefits in lower-crime environments.

• An expected further decline in health benefits in the next police contract, which is currently the subject of arbitration.

Harp noted that officers can retire as early as 40 or 45 from other departments, and have productive years ahead that could be used in New Haven.

“I love the idea,” Campbell said of the idea of creating the new “lateral” police position. He said most departments have such positions. He said he envisions having applicants complete a 25-50 question written test, then spend a couple of weeks (rather than the customary three months for rookies) with a field training officers to get up to speed with the city’s streets and radio codes.

“Then you have a fully trained, fully certified police officer who is available to you right away, instead of waiting nine months” including time in the training academy, Campbell said. “If you hired 25 laterals, you could have them on the street within a month.

“They come with something you can’t put a price tag on: Experience.”

City human resources chief Steve Librandi said he’s ready to work on the details. “There are obstacles to it. We have some ideas,” he said. “We need to make sure they’re feasible legally and practically.”

 

Click on the video to watch the full episode of WNHH FM’s “Mayor Monday” program, which includes discussion with mayoral assistant Mike Harris about efforts to train New Haveners for tech jobs and to connect neighborhoods though art.

This episode of “Mayor Monday” was made possible with the support of Gateway Community College and Berchem Moses P.C.

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posted by: SpecialK on December 4, 2018  4:43pm

I thought the whole reasoning behind Police Officers getting 20 or 25 year and out pensions was that their job is so stressful and demanding that they should be able to retire young? Yet everywhere I look I see them “retiring” young and then going straight to another department.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on December 4, 2018  5:11pm

It would help if New Haven didn’t have police contracts allowing our officers to “retire” after twenty years, in their 40’s and with full benefits, only to go work the same job elsewhere, essentially for double pay.

So the answer to this problem is to hire other town’s “retirees”? Those people “as young as 40 to 45, with many productive years ahead…” (Harp’s words!)

Brilliant. Friggin’ brilliant.

posted by: Honest in New Haven on December 4, 2018  6:09pm

It may sound overly generous, but to me anyone who places their lives at risk on a daily basis when “they go to work” and does so for 20 years should be able to call it quits at 20 years and be able to cash in.  If they decide to do it again because they are able to, then why not?  That’s their decision?  I would say the same for firefighters.  Pension reform might include ideas like having to wait until 50 or 55 to start collecting, etc.  The pension agreement is part of the employment contract so if the person earned it, pay it to him. 

BTW, I’m not a cop or firefighter, nor do I have any in my immediate family.  I think there are valid reasons for pension reform, but targeting people who are able to honestly earn two pensions isn’t one of them.

posted by: narcan on December 4, 2018  8:15pm

Same old tired complaining about retirements?

Doing the job you agreed to do for the amount of time you agreed to do it in exchange for the benefits you were promised is not “double dipping” or taking advantage of any loopholes.

To the point of the article; I’m surprised New Haven has been excluding lateral hires this long. They should absolutely seek to hire already certified and potentially highly experienced officers.

I’m not sure what carrot they would dangle; usually after a full career people are looking to slow down.

posted by: Knowthefacts on December 4, 2018  8:21pm

How does the Mayor and Chief think this is a new idea. There are several officers who are transfers from other departments. But the state still requires a lateral transfer to pass all the test psych..polygraph…written..background check. The only test that is opitional is the PT test. The officer would still have to be certified to be skip the academy. This is not something new with transfers. The Mayor and Chief are just trying to make it look like she cares. How about when it was brought up to her in the meeting with the union and she said she didn’t care people were leaving for better pay. And people complaining about the 20/25 year retirement, that’s the industry standard for fire, law enforcement, and military.

posted by: fcastle1984 on December 4, 2018  8:55pm

This is hilarious! Really.

Does the chief and mayor think someone who retires from a suburban dept wants to come to New Haven seeing the politicized non sense that takes place here?

The word is out that NH is a horrible place. This isnt a secret. If it was so great, why would non- eligible people be leaving in droves? Why would 30-50 ppl be looking to leave in a “mass- exodus”. If it was that great of a place, people would be hungry to be here. Word is half the current academy class is already applying elsewhere.

I’m sure NH is exactly the place some retired suburban cop wants to come after retirement. Seeing the way the BOA, the mayor, etc. esteem their officers, I’m sure people will be tripping over themselves to apply.

And lets not forget the “protesters”.

If anyone needs an indication on the appreciation New Haven officers recieve, they need only to read this article. The comment section says it all: not one thank you to the officers who were shot, shot at, or helped rescue the victims of domestic violence.

https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/police_awards/

As Arianna Grande says, “thank you, next” 😂🤣

posted by: JohnDVelleca on December 4, 2018  8:59pm

@Knowthefacts

    Thank you for clearing that up!!! 

    This isn’t new everyone, it’s existed for many years in EVERY police department.  When our officers leave to go to another department they’re “laterally transferring.”  A new certified officer position??  What does that even mean??  Please stop with this silliness and find real answers.  You guys are really starting to look very foolish now.

@AverageTaxpayer

    While there are some officers who leave and go to another department to work as a patrol officer, it is certainly not the majority of us who are retired.  Currently, I’m looking around for a job I’d like because I’m only 49 and I do have a few good years left in me.  But not as a patrol officer, that’s for sure.  That would be as painful as driving a nail through my eye.  Patrol officer is a young persons position.  Some cops can do it in their 40’s and 50’s, but many don’t want to.

    Lastly, is this what we really want?  I’d be surprised if this works.  I just don’t see many cops leaving the suburbs after a full career to pound a walking beat and get shot at.  Those officers would also transfer to a higher paying jurisdiction. Don’t ya think?  Sorry to be the voice of reason and logic.  The solution is a force of retired police officers who have spent their entire careers in suburban departments?  Really? Urban and suburban policing couldn’t be more different.  Be very careful of what you’re asking for here….

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on December 4, 2018  9:11pm

Many of us were under the assumption that there was or should be an effort to hire more New Haven residents for our police force, especially more Black, Hispanic and female officers.
Now we hear of a plan being considered of hiring retired suburban police! The majority of suburban police retirees are not people of color, and they would not be residents of this city!
How is it that the only new idea for the New Police Department is to hire older, retired white male police who live in the suburbs and have absolutely no connections and attachments to the communities of this city?
Why are we in this current predicament in which the new haven Police Department cannot attract and retain good police? How is it that New Haven cannot compete with our suburban communities and even the Yale University Police Department?
People leave the NHPD for better pay and better benefits, and probably perceived better working conditions.
New Haven had better do some immediate self-analysis to address the issue of BLUE FLIGHT, rather than to resort to hiring tired, retired and potentially burnt out people from suburban communities to serve our community.
All of these retirees are not retired and burnt out. Surely they do have experience. But what will be the level of commitment of retired cops, drawing a pension and health benefits from their previous employee and possibly Social Security, the people of New Haven?  If hired, this would be a side gig for them that they could leave at the drop of their police cap!
What makes the mayor think these retired suburban police would not ultimately join the mass blue exodus that we all now see?
If more money, better benefits and better working conditions are what it will take to attract and retain good police and be more competitive with the suburbs, the police brass and City Hall need to figure out exactly what needs to be done to make that happen.
Retreaded and recycled retired suburban cops do not appear to be the right fit for this city!

posted by: Noteworthy on December 4, 2018  10:03pm

We don’t need nor can we afford 500 cops. We are not Baltimore. Let attrition take us to the correct staffing level and stop being irresponsible with our money.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on December 4, 2018  10:07pm

@ Honest & @ Knowthefacts — Maybe you guys could help me out with some data.

I mean I’m scouring the internets, and I can’t find, anywhere, anything that suggest retiring on 80% of pay, after only 20 years, is an industry norm. But maybe I’m missing something, or maybe you all are just selling disinformation to an unknowing public.

I’d also love to see the data you have to justify over-time and extra duty work, (traffic safety, bouncing, etc.) being added in to pension calculations. Because I can’t find that anywhere either.

Thanks much! (And please don’t simply point to other CT departments for supporting data.)

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on December 4, 2018  10:12pm

I did find this state by state comparative data. It’s for State Police, but still, it proves by point:

http://www.ncsl.org/research/fiscal-policy/state-retirement-plans-public-safety-tables.aspx

posted by: BevHills730 on December 4, 2018  10:19pm

Can New Haven make cops who leave after receiving training pay for their training?  Also is there a way to encourage even more local hiring?  My guess is cops who live in New Haven will be better police and less likely to abandon the city.

posted by: Christian Bruckhart on December 4, 2018  11:01pm

This is a positive step. Lateral transfers don’t have to be just retired officers, just certified, meaning they graduated a CT police academy and completed an FTO program.  Maybe someone comes here from another state or is in a small PD and doesn’t enjoy it. Other PDs have a lateral process but in New Haven the only way to transfer here was to go through the entire entry level process. I’m sure that dissuaded a few people from applying.  I was a cop in Wallingford for 5 years and when I transferred here it was a huge pain going through all of that. Thankfully, I didn’t have to repeat the academy. 

Allowing laterals isn’t going to make up for the loss of people leaving for better benefits.  By my count, there are only about 10 of us who transferred here from other PDs. But if we can get a few people a year with an expedited process it will help.

I think another great pool of people to consider is already retired NHPD officers. A lot of those people didn’t want to leave but were essentially forced out by pending changes in retirement benefits. Hire them back as salaried employees, keeping the benefits they’re already receiving, for positions inside the building, processing crime scenes, etc. The wealth of talent and skills that a lot of those people take with them when they leave is the result of decades of experience and is incalculable. Why don’t we consider using them to supplement positions of need in the PD? The city would save money and have highly experienced people.

posted by: Knowthefacts on December 5, 2018  6:53am

@ Averagetaxpayer

You can not retire at 20 years in new haven with 80% of your pay. You are way off in your calculations. New Haven changed the contract about 6 years ago to 25 years of service with a pention of 50% of your base salary only, no overtime or extra duty included and u can go look that up on the cities website because the police contract is public information. There are some senior officers who get OT and extra duty in their pension still but that is no longer the majority it’s the minority. All new classes are under retirement plan. To get an 80% pension you would have to work over 35 years. An officer pays almost 13% of their pay every week toward their pension. And if I’m talking about a PD in CT why can I not use statistics from PDs in the same state.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on December 5, 2018  7:08am

AverageTaxpayer, as a point of reference, I am a retired Tier II state employee. After 30 years of service, I received a pension equal to 40% of my final salary (no complaints). State police and other “hazardous duty” employees get to retire earlier at full pension, but I don’t think it comes close to 80% of salary after 20 years. More recently hired state employees get less generous pensions.

Honest in New Haven, point taken. But going forward, I think the city could differentiate between frontline officers who face potentially life-threatening situations on a regular basis, and administrators. The latter certainly have stress-filled jobs. But that is true for many administrators in the private as well as public sectors, who aren’t eligible to retire in their 40s or 50s.

posted by: JohnDVelleca on December 5, 2018  8:06am

@Chrisitan Bruckhart

    Great idea, it truly it is.  I’d certainly come back per diem and I know many of us would because I’ve spoken to many retirees about it.  Problem is, the administration doesn’t seem to like the idea and Alder Marchand, in his infinite wisdom, pretty much squashed that opportunity by creating a charter revision that states the city cannot hire a retiree back as a contractor while we receive a pension.  In other words, my pension stops and possibly adjusts when I go back to work for the city.  No thanks, I’m good.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on December 5, 2018  9:12am

@ Knowthefacts — quit muddying the water by pretending the pension deals post-reform somehow apply to the more senior officers who are still operating under the old pension system.

The pension arrangements you mention for new hires are fair and in keeping with reality. The pension system applying to this year’s retirees continues to be gamed, and pretty much ridiculous.

posted by: Trustme on December 5, 2018  9:31am

I love reading comments from people who think every or most of the cops that retire from New Haven go and become cops somewhere else. That is not true, if they do its a small percentage and they go to small towns or college campus where they take 1-2 calls a shift at MOST instead of the 15-20 in New Haven. So that practically equals out to a cake job. Most of the retired cops stay retired collecting their basic pension, the ones that don’t become security guards or go teach if they have degrees.

I could be wrong but I definitely do NOT see retired Madison, Noth Haven, or Branford cops come to New Haven to continue their police career. And if their dumb enough to do so, they won’t last with the crap pay and benefits and the never ending negative energy towards the police in this city.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on December 5, 2018  9:47am

I’m incensed by those who wish to constantly indict police officers as if they’re the bane of existence.  Raise your hand if you’re willing to potentially take a bullet for $40-65,000 a year?  Well, these brave men and woman in NH said they would do it.  And for that, I thank everyone of them.

To those who wish to complain about officers retiring after 20 years of service.  Unfortunately, there have been many officers across the country that have retired far too early due to being slaughtered by the deranged animals that seek to harm and continually disrupt society.  Those officers will never realize a pension.  Therein lies my support for such a contract.

Regarding the mayor’s clarion call to recruit interested Vets, she should.  She should also install pilot recruiting stations in every high school.  If, or when crime swells, she would be to blame.  So she’s being proactive by exhausting her proverbial toolbox to prevent such a realization.  Is the atmosphere of cohesion in the NHPD palatable?  Perhaps not.  But neither was Desert Storm.

posted by: Resident on December 5, 2018  2:05pm

This shows just how out of touch Mayor Harp really is with the reality of policing in her city.  Cops don’t want to work here because of low pay and horrible working conditions.
Who retires to go to a job with lower pay, greater safety risk and more stress? You’d have to be blind greedy or completely insane. Would Mayor Harp leave her current position to go manage the Burger King on Whalley Ave? 

Most retired officers from other towns have the financial stability to be somewhat choosey about where they work next or even if they want to retire at all. When New Haven can’t even compete to attract new officers who don’t have this luxury how can we expect to “woo” retirees?

Lastly, what every police officer in New Haven knows, is that New Haven Police Officers are extremely accustomed to and tolerant of hostility from the citizens of this city. (I understand this doesn’t apply to ALL citizens of New Haven).  20 years experience in another town where physical resistance and verbal abuse from the public is not tolerated will not translate well to New Haven.

posted by: opin1 on December 5, 2018  2:05pm

@JohnDVelleca, I agree why would a retired suburban cop want to come to New Haven to be a patrol officer or to pound a walking beat and get shot at. However, what if they were offered the jobs of doing traffic duty, overseeing construction, events, etc. i.e. the easier/safer stuff?  and also if they were given an option to work part-time or hourly?  I would imagine, if I was a retired cop and just wanted to make some extra income but maybe only work 10-20 hours per week that might be a nice option to have. That might free up the younger full-time cops to focus on their regular beats and not have to work so much OT. I’m no expert, would be curious to hear your thoughts?

posted by: JohnDVelleca on December 5, 2018  4:56pm

@opin1

    It’s great to see people coming together and trying offer solutions for our officers.  Unfortunately, the practice you speak of is prohibited by the union contract.  In fact, most police union contracts are structured this way.  Furthermore, working these extra assignments is pretty much the only way the cops are currently offsetting the low salary.  However, the officers should be forewarned that they are heading toward arbitration and if the city proposes this as a solution, your scenario can become a reality very quickly. 

    The hard reality is that the only way out of this is to increase the officers salary to a competitive rate.  The even harder reality is that there are only a few ways to do this when the city doesn’t have the money to support the increase.  The solution starts with shrinking the workforce, that’s the beginning of the only way out.

posted by: Dennis Serf on December 5, 2018  6:04pm

This problem didn’t develop overnight. We’re in this position because of poor planning and bad leadership at the executive levels within the City Administration. Leadership means everything; it’s why some professional sport franchises always win while others lose, and it’s why some cities and towns thrive while others go bankrupt. New Haven needs new leadership. If you are interested in leading New Haven into a new and better era, and want to run for elected office, then reach me at the link below.

Dennis Serfilippi
https://newhavenct.squarespace.com/

posted by: SteveO on December 5, 2018  7:18pm

Police earn and deserve good wages and benefits.

posted by: opin1 on December 6, 2018  12:28am

@JohnDVelleca, thanks for clarifying, I’m not surprised. I thought getting some retired cops to come work part time or hourly might be a good idea but agree with you there’s slim chance any would want to become a full-time New Haven cop after retiring from a suburban force. 

I think we need to significantly cut both the size of the PD and number of shifts, reduce/eliminate OT and raise the pay to match or exceed the surrounding areas (but overall reduce the annual cost of the department). I realize that means sometimes not all calls could be responded to and they would just have to prioritize. But we can’t continue spending the way we currently are. And we can always add officers back in a few years if it becomes necessary.

I know many others have said the same on these message boards but I don’t know why no one in our government, the mayor or anyone else seems to want to talk about that.

posted by: 1644 on December 6, 2018  7:25am

Resident: I wonder about the basis for your statement, “20 years experience in another town where physical resistance and verbal abuse from the public is not tolerated will not translate well to New Haven.”
I would hope all officers are taught to have thick skins and tolerate verbal abuse.  Moreover, physical resistance to arrest should be met with he same, measured responses in all forces.  I certainly hope that the officers in my suburban town don’t go “Rodney King” on some idiot just because he is mouthing off.  Other towns don’t have the   illegal demonstrations that New Haven has, but they certainly have domestic disputes and other volatile situations in which officers are expected to react calmly.

posted by: tsat on December 10, 2018  8:41am

The Mayor needs to stop believing Chief Campbell bull, him & his administration is blowing smoke! New Haven residents need to wake up, community policing doesn’t exist in our town and won’t ever exist hiring lateral transfers. Community policing means hire cops from your town!

posted by: fcastle1984 on December 10, 2018  1:03pm

@tsat- community policing is indeed done. The hens are coming home to roost! Even the NH natives are upset. The City goes out of their way to hire NH residents, including unsavory characters with checkered pasts. Then, the city expects them to be indentured servants and work for peanuts. The BOA and Harp then say they can’t afford to pay people. Even the native Officers see they’re treated like 2nd class citizens.

The City has double standards for everyone. The PD pays 12% into the pension fund, the FD 8% (not hating on the FD).  The Mayor gets a raise, the PD doesn’t. The Mayor doesn’t get the raise she wants, the taxpayers fund her China vacation. Her people need stuff, take the city credit card. NHPD risks their wellbeing dealing with city criminals and emotionally disturbed people, cut the PDs health insurance!

The word is out that NH has no inclination to support their officers in any way, shape, or form. Officers, seeing this, are now fleeing at an accelerated rate.

The final blows are on the way, though.

January 2nd we’re going to see a mass exodus. That, coupled with Stamford reportedly looking for 50 lateral transfers.

Seeing the City’s position, Officers are going to bolt. The contract is reportedly non existent with the Chief’s going against the people they “lead”. The word has leaked and Officers no longer have faith the administration is capable of mundane tasks. There’s no confidence in them. The administration is aiming to civilian-ize assignments which is legally questionable at best. But this also comes from the same people who don’t “think” Officers broke the law submitting false documents electronically. Let’s remember where administration “thinking” got the City when we’re paying for lawsuits. “Thinking”. That’s the first problem. The administration an City don’t think at all…

The contract, or lack there-of, will also motivate people.

Add the rest of the City’s non sense, well, you get the point.

posted by: Nunez on December 10, 2018  7:41pm

Yes is true officers do leave for the money but New Haven should know that by know that some of the officers leaving sometimes they are not even from New haven. They use New Haven just for the training and that’s it mean while our tax payers money goes to waste.Does anyone really think that they will stay here when they can go back to their town and serve over there for more money.Im just saying how I feel.Some of us from this city try to become officers here but sometimes it does not happen.But like my Mom use to say money is not everything.And I say she was right if you doing a job   such as a Caregiver Teacher Doctor Police officer Firemen Etc.jobs that you deal with human life for money then don’t do it you have to be passionate about a job like this .Sorry if offended anyone out there God bless

posted by: WereUthere? on December 11, 2018  1:55pm

This idea comes with its good and bad.

Yes, there should be a lateral system in place which makes it easier for Officers from other departments to come to New Haven if they want to. NHPD would love eager cops from other small departments that want to learn or experience more. I understand that. That’s a good thing.

However, Cops currently in NHPD do not want retired officers that are just looking to come here for a paycheck and not take calls or sit on jobs all day. That could and would upset the file and rank. I don’t believe positions in NHPD should be just given to retirees that maybe have the experience from a previous department.

I feel like this an overall good thing, however beware.

Oh. IF THIS FALLS INTO PLACE MAKE SURE ANY TRANSFERS PASS THE PHYSICAL AGILITY!

In conclusion….
NHPD contract blows.
Restructure the pay scales.
Actually do your job and fund the pension fund like you’re supposed to (SPEAKING TO THE INCOMPETENT PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF THE CITY’s FINANCES).
Unify the Union again. TOP AND BOTTOM GET SAME DEAL.
Stop screwing over the men and women that haven’t even put on the uniform yet with your shady deals with the city. (SPEAKING TO THE UNION COUNCIL).

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 11, 2018  3:53pm

This is why the 401 K is not good.It also makes police officer leave departments.

West Haven PD, losing officers, pleads with city to return to a traditional pension plan

Nearly 10 years after the city, as the result of a controversial arbitration award, switched the Police Department from a chronically underfunded traditional pension plan to a 401(k), police are pushing the city to switch back, saying the change was a bad deal.

Meanwhile, experienced cops continue to retire or take their experience to other departments, and many new officers come in, get trained and then move on.

https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/West-Haven-PD-losing-officers-pleads-with-city-13453038.php