Thursday, February 18, 2010

If the CPD conflict remains unmediated...

The ICMA Police report is not yet here, but some numbers did cross my mind. I have some staffing concerns, if the Council receives the report and there is no significant action taken.

The department consists of approximately:

1) 43 sworn officers in the union; and
2) 4 sworn officers in the command staff.

Of those 47 sworn officers, I think 8 to 10 are at the 25 year mark.

Now consider the pension plan. I believe the Police Union pension has two significant vesting tranches:

1) 20 years = 2% per year
2) 25 years - 2.5% per year

And the pension maxes out at 27 years.

In other words, an officer with 24 years will receive 48% of his/her salary* for the rest of his/her life.

And an officer with 25 years will receive 62.5% of his/her salary for the rest of his/her life... with it maxing out around 68% after 27 years.

My point?

Nearly a quarter of the department is at the top pension tranche. And I find it unlikely that they're interested in the money. More than likely, they're interested in having a job they enjoy. I'm guessing many of them could find a less stressful job and make at least 33% of their current pay. And they'd be making the same as though they were a Police.

If this conflict remains unmediated, will there be an exodus of the department's experienced officers?

And this would obviously have the knock-on effect of the current Chief staffing the department. Yet the rank'n'file have no confidence already. So I imagine there's a multiplier effect there.

I may post some financial numbers this weekend, including pension costs and OPEB (Other Postretirement Employment Benefits - healthcare) vs. new hires, etc.

Tim White

* I think it's the average of the final three years.


Anonymous said...

So its OK if a bunch of tenured teachers quit...I guess based on past information - you think its needed, but if a bunch of tenured cops quit it isn't? Aren't new cops cheaper to employee?

Anonymous said...

In this town, you can't really compare teachers and police officers because of the numbers. Ten cops leaving at once would be cause for great concern, but ten teachers leaving across the district would barely be a blip on the radar screen.

There are problems in a police department with too much turnover. While new hires are obviously paid less, there is a cost and time factor involved. Unless hired from another department (already certified by the State), quite some time is required for recruit training before the officer can be sent out to patrol solo. Also, there is the cost factor of new uniforms and equipment. Further, you don't want a high ratio of inexperienced rookies. This is where you have to concerned about potential mistakes and liability - i.e., lawsuits. In sports terms, you'd like to always have a deep bench.

Some of the issues that Tim mentioned are serious concerns for management. Recruitment and retention of the highest quality personnel are most important. The department and Chief's reputations drive that somewhat. A number of years ago (when unemployment was nothing like it is today), there were over 700 applicants for ONE Cheshire police officer position. Do you think that Madison, with their recent history could do that?

A chief whose style is forward-looking and pro-active, as well as being a respected leader and role model for his department is a big plus to a department and town. And this goes a long way toward recruiting and retaining qulaity staff.

Anonymous said...

Tim, I've noticed that you've been trying to take a break from this site but you seem to get sucked right back into it. :-) I thank you for all of your time, effort and heart you put in for us. You deserve to take a break from this blog, at the very least.

I'd like to offer a suggestion if I may. Try mating. That's right, mating with other humans. Get away from the blog, town council non-sense for a while.

You need a girlfriend, or if you have one, you need to spend more time with her than with us. While I don't personally care about your personal life I do have a selfish reason with regards to your mating habits.

To ensure a brighter future for Cheshire we need to make sure you're producing little White Jr's to carry on your important work in town. So, get busy and get out of here for a while. ;-)

(Seriously, thank you for your hard work).

Pro Teacher Anti Stupidity said...

The PD pension structure encourages officers to "retire" after 20-25 years, find a new job, and thus get a hefty salary increase. The number of retirements is purely a function of the pension policy as opposed to a statement on the police chief.

Anonymous said...

pro teacher - I don't know about you, but I would rather have 50 year old teachers, sitting in class, than 50 year old officers chasing, fighting, and pulling me to safety. Seems that the offset of the second highest divorce rate, suicide rate, alcoholism and heart issues from stress dosent really allow for the great enjoyment of all that wealth that you speak of. Police and fire work is a young persons game. How many 60 year old soldiers are on the front line. Seems to me the elder statesman is commanding from an office, or TEACHING where their experience is needed

tim white said...

11:13... thank you very much. I am single (though extremely interested in one particular girl). Beyond that, I'm a bit tough. Ever take the MBTI test?

My INFJ personality is somewhat uncommon. I'm an activist and not for the faint (sp??) of heart. haha...

tim white said...

Interesting to me... two former council members I know were an ENFJ and ENFP. And I have two current members pegged as ENTJ and INTJ.

The MBTI doesn't tell who a person is, but it does give an interesting view into one's initial tendencies.

tim white said...

Sorry... forgot to paste... here's a link to a description of INFJ.

Here's a description of a typical comment from an ENTJ: "I'm really sorry you have to die." (I realize this is an overstatement. However, most Fs and other gentle souls usually chuckle knowingly at this description.)

And descriptions for an ENFP, INTJ and an ENFJ.

Pro Teacher Anti Stupidity said...

9:55 I agree with you. My point being, officers will leave because doing so often means more money, less stress, and better quality of life. I disagree with Tim's point that, should the current dispute not be resolved satisfactorily, that IT will lead to a mass exodus. That happens quite naturally.

Tim White said...

That happens quite naturally.

Turnover is natural and appropriate. My concern is the rate of turnover.

Whereas the teachers normally have about 10 to 15 retirements per year (400 / 37 yr for maximum pension), that's only about 3% of teaching staff.

My point about the police is that I wouldn't be surprised to see 20% turnover in the next 12 to 24 mos.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Police departments are picking up officers from other departments as it reduces thier training costs and reduces the training time. Some departments (Farmington, Hamden, Madison, Newington, Meriden) are ONLY looking for certified officers. They all pay better than Cheshire also. Not to mention the DEP, University PD's etc. Certified officers are a highly contested commodity.

Anonymous said...

559 - the issue with turnover is huge. If one officer leaves it takes 6 months of academy then another 6 months of training and job shadow (per training requorements) what if 4 officers left? That's almost 1/10 th of the department done for 1 year. Not to mention the loss in experience also

Anne Giddings said...

If police officers retire, there is a significant cost to the town, since the town pays their retirement plus some post-retirement benefits.

If a teacher retires, the State Teachers' Retirement Board pays the pension. There is no cost to the town for the pension. There may be some cost due to post-retirement benefits, depending upon the contract, such as some health benefit payments if the teacher had a lot of unused sick days. I do not know what the Cheshire teachers' contract has.

Additionally, as others have pointed out, the number of teachers who retire in any given year is a small percentage of the total number and is usually spread out over the various schools.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. What stress do they have in Cheshire. She is moving out of town shortly.

Anonymous said...

"If police officers retire, there is a significant cost to the town, since the town pays their retirement plus some post-retirement benefits."

So let us see, the answer to the concern stated must be, never let them retire and there will be no additional costs to the town?

At least in the world of for profit business this kind of thing is planned for and at least in the case of an honest business the funding is put aside on a regular basis so that when the inevitable becomes reality as it always does everything works smoothly and efficiently.

In the land of CT politics though first our politicians kind of forget to have adequate funding in place and then if we are dealing with municipal employee unions it becomes time for all the politicians to whine for bigger and better benefits without ever really funding the promises. No cost is too high when votes are involved and other people's money is being used.

So, if 5 or 10 PD employees leave what is the extra cost to the town? Where is the money that should already be set aside for the pension payments anyway? If it is fully there now there is no issue of benefits payments.

And of course the reality of a business or government service activity is that at some point personnel turnover may actually go a long way towards improving services for all involved.

Anonymous said...

In many towns and cities politicians underfund their pensions, which from time to time, they use as a piggy bank when they're short in their operating budgets - promising to return the money and it never gets done.

Agree with 7:54 that a pension and other retirement benefits is a normal cost of doing business. So if you hire them, a certain percentage will do full careers and retire. You could certainly not offer retirement benefits, but what do you think the chances of hiring professional, quality candidates would be? While there will always be those who don't belong in a police job, the majority do. And, Cheshire has to compete with other police agencies to recruit the best candidates.

Anonymous said...

624 "she" is irrelevant. "she" is the only one who thinks "she" is taken seriously. "she" causes as much sress as not having enough cream for your coffee.

Anonymous said...

NOBODY has answered my original question: What is the turnover of the CPD and how is that measured?? I DOUBT it is very high.

Anonymous said...

624 - also I think she isn't going anywhere. She has said this before then nothing, ending site......nope. Locking out ip's .......nope. Federal lawsuit......nope. Civil liberities complaint......nope. It's an attempt to get attention

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"NOBODY has answered my original question: What is the turnover of the CPD and how is that measured?? I DOUBT it is very high."

This will be fairly close: since 2005, a Chief passed away, a Lieutenant retired, a Deputy Chief retired, two officers resigned, a Chief passed away, a Detective retired, and a Sergeant retired. 8 of 46 = 17.4%

friends of uth said...

well is SHE isn't taken seriously why are you getting all worked up over it? because it works. it upsets who she meant to upset i call that very clever. mission accomplished.

friends of uth said...

hey gomer,not having enough cream for your coffee makes the coffee bitter just like you.

Anonymous said...

Younger officers consider leaving for towns that see more "action" compared to Cheshire. Many towns pay more to start than Cheshire. Older, experianced officers do not consider coming to Cheshire PD as it usually results in a pay cut. (Younger officers want to be in persuits and pull their guns while older officers want quiet, bedroom towns)

If we lose 1 officer, the replacement is 6 months in the academy and 6 months OTJ training. While this new hire is at the academy, someone has to fill his/her shift resulting in OT. While this officer is OTJ training, another officer needs to be present at all times meaning 2 people are doing the job of 1.

Starting salary is about $26 per hour or $39 per hour OT. Covering 6 months of shifts -8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 26 weeks is $40,560. Field training time is the same time frame adding $27,040. End result is the town ends up paying $67,600 to do 1 persons job or about $14,000 more than the new officer will make in his first year on the job. This does not include uniforms (training uniforms are a different color than patrol uniforms), benefits, academy costs ($5000 per student)

Each new hire costs the town roughly $21,000 more. If we were to do that 8 times, (8 since 2005) we are spending $168,000 MORE for police service than we should have to.

The police in this town should be compensated a little better so they stay here. A few have been considering other towns for more money while a dozen or so are considering retirement.

WE, (all the residents of Cheshire) could potentially be looking at replacing upto 15 officers in the near future. This many potential vacantcies could cost us OVER $300,000 in added costs in the near future. (1-2 years) In a zero budget year, where do we find that money?

Anonymous said...

2:25 a.m. "The police in this town should be compensated a little better so they stay here."

This seems to be a bit backwards because as everyone has been saying almost everyplace else in the world pays their officers better then this town. Police officers are in such high demand especially if they have all their qual cards in place that getting a new, better and higher paying position would be as simple as crossing the street for the PDs union brothers.

So, why are they all staying and why have they started a choir of loud whiners?

First of all after you apply for another job you actually need to get a job offer which in the current economy is not guaranteed. No doubt most of the PD members would not be financially better off if they left by a large amount either.

Quite possibly when everything associated with compensation is figured leaving for another higher paying department would mean an actual cut in total pay which needs to be stated including pension and all forms of health insurance as well as sick days etc.

It seems year after year, especially near contract negotiation time residents are subjected to the old saga about how the union brothers are just so poorly paid they'll all quit and the town will be in a real fix because replacing a PD member is just so impossible to accomplish. In reality every single PD member will always need replacing sooner or later so maybe everyone should be focusing on just why this topic could ever be an issue. Good management would have this issue pre-planned and pre-funded.

Anonymous said...

Everyone can be replaced and ultimately will be replaced one way or another. Just a fact.

Perhaps Cheshire should do to the police dept. what the school district in R.I. just did with their them all and replace them.

Anonymous said...

You are correct, everyone can be replaced. Police officers, town managers, council members, teachers..... Replacing 1 is not too bad. Replacing 15 in a short time span is a financial nightmare. We need to keep the experianced officers that we have to teach the new ones coming in the door.

Anonymous said...

9:03 PM

Replacing TC members is only reflected in the philosophical decisions they make impacting the town budget. Unlike the town staff professionals you mentioned they get no pay...except a few stale snackfoods at their meetings...and thats the way it should be by the way.

Anonymous said...

How do you know they are stale? Im a tax payer, am I allowed to take from the snack table too? If this is for council members only, they should be claiming anything they take from the table to the IRS as pay for serving.

We need council members that are not going to let Cheshire be the training facility for any service. We cannot spend thousands of dollars training people to do a job so that another town can take them away.

Anonymous said...

"We cannot spend thousands of dollars training people to do a job so that another town can take them away."

Could this be just more union blather? Just come up with an abstract concept which serves to punish anyone willing to hold the line on a budget and on ever escalating taxes.

The most amazing thing in all of this is the unions always win. Are there any CT towns left where municipal employees and especially PD employees are not yet fully unionized in the first place?

Turnover is a good thing. Not everyone is built to be stuck in what, after 20 or 30 years is going to become a dead-end position. Smart management recognizes that some workers will decide to leave because of basic issues of pay, benefits, and most importantly better opportunity. Smart management accommodates this. Having no desire for any turnover, new ideas, and new approaches etc results in stale failing service providers. The costs of training new employees sometimes comes with significant benefits to an organization.