Re: Police Detail slashed in transportation refrom pitch
Finished my letter. Before I send it how about some constructive review and criticism from the members here.
March 30, 2008
Dear Senator ,
Hello Sir/Madam, I would like to take a few moments of your time and express my deep concerns in regards to the newly proposed Transportation Reform bill that would affect Police Details. As citizen of the Commonwealth and as a Special Police Officer I am very worried about the negative consequences that will arise if this or any bills like it were to pass. Getting to the point I would like to direct your attention to some misconceptions, facts and some personal thoughts that I believe you should be made aware of concerning this issue.
First off I would like to take look at some common misconceptions that are often made when comparing the use of Civilian Flagman vs. uniformed Police Officers. As I am sure you are aware Massachusetts is the only state in the union that does not use Civilian Flagmen. Because of this many both in the public and private sector automatically assume that the use of flagman must be cheaper and will save taxpayers a substantial amount of money. However when reading currant articles in Boston based news media it is suggested the use of police details only cost the state a mere $5 million a year. However this is a misconception. What the articles as well as the studies failed to mention is that the overwhelming majority of details are paid by the contractor doing the work. Many of the Commonwealth's municipalities take a percentage of the detail rate and place it in local budgets. By doing this taxpayers actually save money. Another cost misconception one must realize is by hiring private firms there is no guarantee that their rates will not go up. In an economy that is uncertain the cost of service is going up, especially in the private sector. While it may now only cost $25-$30 dollars per hour for a flagman, in the next five to ten years it may cost as much, if not more than using a police officer.
Now that I have touched upon some common misconceptions of cost benefits to the use of flagman, I would like to direct your attention to some facts that are very beneficial in regards of use of Police Officers. It should be obvious but the use of Police Officers at work sites significantly enhances public safety. Police Officers, unlike Civilian Flagmen are trained First Responders, have powers of arrest, prevent and deter crime, are less of a liability, and are trained in both criminal and motor vehicle law. Civilian Flagmen provide none of these essential services. I personally know of cases where fellow officers have provided extraordinary services while on a road detail. They have made stolen vehicle arrests, DUI Arrests, rendered Medical aid, and have foiled crimes about to take place. I have read several newspaper articles just this year that support this. Not surprisingly I never saw one about flagmen
In addition to the facts above let me touch upon some personal thoughts about the necessity to keep Police details. You see I, and a lot of fellow officers feel "we" need details. Despite what some may say Police Officers in the Commonwealth find it sometimes hard to make ends meet financially on straight pay salary alone. I know many officers that also work another job in addition to being a full time officer. For Special Police Officers like me who work part time and usually voluntarily, details are extremely important. If it was not for details many of us could not continue to provide our service. A portion of my own detail pay goes straight toward uniform, equipment maintenance, and in-service training. Many of us are not in this profession to make money. We are in it because we love what we do. Serving our community is a very rewarding and gratifying experience and by working road jobs it helps make our service possible.
In closing I hope a few of the things I have touched upon will heighten your awareness as to why Road Detail jobs should, and need to remain worked by Uniformed Police Officers. I hope by reading this you will share some of my concerns with some of your fellow colleagues, to help make the right decision by allowing the continuance of Police Officers over the use of Civilian Flagmen
Thank you for your time