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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I work for a small town police department (less than 20). My chief refuses to supply officers with a bullet proof vest even upon being a new hire. Several months ago he even had the funding to supply us with them but refused to based on the following. The chief has a dispute with our union in which he says if he "buys us vests" he wants to be able to discipline us for not wearing them (including while on details). The union will not agree to his terms thus no one will receive a vest. Many of us are using vests from other jobs or from friends. Now, even though the government is the ones who pay for them, is he allowed to keep us from what is a very basic and necessary tool for the job?

I am writing to see if anyone else has had this sort of issue and if someone could give me information I use which would change the chief's decision.

In my opinion he is failing to provide for the members of his department and is opening up himself to a lawsuit God forbid anyone were to get injured because of his decision.

Signed,
A very angry patrolman.
 

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Our new contract as of July 1, states that if the town purchases and issues you a bulletproof vest then you must wear it and it is a condition of employment up to and including termination. I got my own from the previous dept and I won't ask for one since now I have a choice when to where it.
 

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I couldn't agree more with VOR... its a basic understanding that as police officers we take a risk on a daily basis that we will be thrown into a dangerous situation. The bad guys out there have an array of weapons to use against us, wouldn't you want to have as much, if not more, than them to protect yourself? My priority is to get home safe every day, from both a detail and or a regular work day. Tell your fellow officers to quit being selfish with regards to the union issue and to consider the feelings of the majority.
 

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If your union isn't smart enough to say yes...we support the fact that officers should wear vest while on duty and it's an essential part of the job...you've got a pretty bad union.

If you get a department issued vest, you wear it...EOD. If you don't get a department issued vest, you buy one and wear it.

Face it it's going to get worse for police as a whole if you get the funding, get the matching from the state or local funds, get a bunch of vests and they all end up staying in the locker...
When politicians start looking for things to cut, they'll say "hey we gave departments MILLIONS of dollars for BPvest programs...and the police didn't wear them, and death related to gsw's didn't go down"....lets cut that program first.

In this case your union is not helping you one bit.
 

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Sure they're hot and uncomfortable, but which is more uncomfortable, wearing your vest on a 90 degree day or not wearing your vest and catching a bullet in your chest??
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What my intent was in this thread was some suggests or information which would help those of us who DO want a vest and WOULD agree to wear them whenever. I for one am FOR wearing a vest all the time. I have NO objections to my chief's proposal. But as a member of a UNION (whole), I cannot be the only one to agree to it. There are some old timers who refuse to such a disciplinary clause. I don't agree that the chief has decided that this is the only way to give vests. What does he care, its not his money IF guys receive a new vest and don't wear them. Is it a waste, sure. But don't PENALIZE those guys who just want a basic life saving tool.

So, does anyone have any suggestions to "force the chief's hand" in this matter?
sincerely
"an old vest wearing" patrolman
 

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It's not the Chief that is the problem, it's the Union.

Here's what you do. Contact some departments that issue vests and find out their policies regarding department issued vests. If most towns that issue vest require that they be worn with threat of penalty if they are not, then you know it's your union. If more towns say, issue but have no policy about wearing...then it's your Chief that's the problem.
Now if you don't want to look all this stuff up I'll give you the short version:
If you take federal monies (and sometimes state monies) to purchase vests...the DOJ or the State normally includes a performance rider that says the departments must also have a policy the requires vest use. That's why some departments will say, take our vest...wear it all the time - buy your own vest do what you want. So again...this is such a common thing, it's sort of odd that your Union doesn't get it.

See the link for towns and contacts for the Federal BPV partnership program.
BPV Partnership Awards for MA

Here's the actual wording from the requirement:

(c) Preferential Consideration.--In awarding grants under this
part, the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance may give
preferential consideration, if feasible, to an application from a
jurisdiction that--
``(1) has the greatest need for armor vests based on the
percentage of law enforcement officers in the department who do
not have access to a vest;
``(2) has, or will institute, a mandatory wear policy that
requires on-duty law enforcement officers to wear armor vests
whenever feasible;

In human speak this means...wear policy or no vests the next time around...your Union is playing power games with your safety as the pawn. Now what may be happening is that your Union is reading the amendments to the BPV Act and thinking this requirement isn't there anymore, if that's true they are applying ammendments to the wrong section...and just can't read and in the end you suffer.
If it's the membership that's playing these games, give them the information and if they can't figure it out...buy and wear your vest ALL the time...and lead by example. In the end you'll be safer and maybe your example will save some lives.
If you need any help PM me. I may still have some policies laying around.

Some statistics to hand out:

(a) Findings.--Congress finds that--
(1) the number of law enforcement officers who are killed in
the line of duty would significantly decrease if every law
enforcement officer in the United States had the protection of
an armor vest;
(2) according to studies, between 1985 and 1994, 709 law
enforcement officers in the United States were feloniously
killed in the line of duty;
(3) the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that the
risk of fatality to law enforcement officers while not wearing
an armor vest is 14 times higher than for officers wearing an
armor vest;
(4) the Department of Justice estimates that approximately
150,000 State, local, and tribal law enforcement officers,
nearly 25 percent, are not issued body armor;
(5) according to studies, between 1985 and 1994, bullet-
resistant materials helped save the lives of more than 2,000 law
enforcement officers in the United States; and
(6) the Executive Committee for Indian Country Law
Enforcement Improvements reports that violent crime in Indian
country has risen sharply, despite a decrease in the national
crime rate, and has concluded that there is a ``public safety
crisis in Indian country''.
 

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"Sounds like someone in your union is being a crybaby."

"If you're issued a vest and you don't wear it, you're an ass, plain and simple."

"If the chief wants to discipline someone for not wearing an expensive piece of issued gear that could save your life so you can save someone elses, more power to him."

"Tell your fellow officers to quit being selfish with regards to the union issue"

"Again, it doesn't sound like it's the Chief's hand that needs to be forced - it's the stubborn old timers that are jamming you up."

"It's not the Chief that is the problem, it's the Union."


Above sounds like a round table discussion at a MA. Chiefs of Police Association meeting.

Here is my personal point of view.

I guess if I could sit on my ass in my air conditioned cruiser for the vast majority of my details then wearing a vest would be no problem. Then I would not be a union crybaby ass then plain and simple. But unfortunately the average Officer does not have the luxury of having the majority of their details on the highways. Some of us actually have to interact with people more then the standard "Do you know how fast you were going?" We can't just sit there and watch DVD's, talk on the phone, or play with our computers. That's the fun part of the Big Dig watching all those boots get dirty when some actually have to climb out of those RV's with blue lights and wave their arms for a few minutes. But that's for another posting one day.

Lovely how some want to give the chief more power to screw the street cops in the ground. For those who know and understand the actual streets giving the chief even a bigger bat to beat his officers with is NOT the answer.

Those "stubborn old timers" are the same ones who fought tooth and nail for every F'ing benefit that the fresh paint now enjoy. While some were home playing pup tent with an old playboy under the covers as a teenager, these "selfish", "stubborn old timers", "plain and simple ass", men and women were fighting the battles that now make you fresh paint, brown nosers, 75K plus a year for just a HS education and even more because of the Quinn bill among other benefits.

If you cave in to the department forcing you to wear the vest whenever you wear the uniform then get ready for personal GPS systems installed on every single PO by order of the Chief. Nice to think of the radio going off advising you to change your location because you have not moved in the last 3 minutes.
 

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You can slice it and dice it anyway you want...vests save lives..a lot of funding for vests come from sources that attach conditions...don't want the money...don't take the money and buy your own vest...or not...it's your life.

I'm not a cop but I would think that when "Some of "you" actually have to interact with people more then the standard", that would be EXACTLY the time to have a vest.

But the original issue was
"several months ago he even had the funding to supply us with them but refused to based on the following. The chief has a dispute with our union in which he says if he "buys us vests" he wants to be able to discipline us for not wearing them (including while on details). "

That's the RULES of the FUNDING...so you can't say he had the funding without having the rules and the unions know that. Why might you ask? Because the program has been in effect for 6 or so years. It's not like he's saying "You officers must provide your own vests and I get to gig you for not wearing them."

So in the end...no rules = no funding...some rules = some funding...it's up to the membership and union to figure out which way they want to go...but a pissing match where the union knows there's no real wiggle room...is who's fault? The DOJ, the Chief? the line officer? nope none of them...so who could it be?

And yes I'd agree when and if you get a CISCOR system... the unions will freak out...it's an ego thing...

Here's what I think will be your best bet:

Have your union take a vote on wether or not they want the vests via funding.
If they do...then have them vote if they will accept the vests with diciplinary conditions or not.

If not then have them write a letter to the Chief:

We the members of X union, having reached a quroum and taken a vote as per our by-laws and regulations request that the Cheif Law Enforcement Officer, [name] apply for funding via the OJP BPVP and provide the officers in X department bullet proof vests with no restrictions as to use or lack there of. The union understands that funding for these vest may be contigent on accepting a use contract but feel that the use contract is an unacceptable compromise in consideration for the department providing BPV .

Signed
(your delegate or union President)

By having a vote and a union letter you Chief may be able to apply for the vests and get them with no conditions attached and your union goes on record supporting the vests but not punishment for not using them.

That will surely "force your Chiefs hand"...but more so it may force your Unions hand.
"We want the equipment but don't want to be forced to use them." , that's what they are saying...is it not?
 

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Our contract does state that vests must be worn when working shifts not details. We have a detail uniform with polo shjrts and BDUs and its quite comfortable but it would have sucked if i had to wear a vest when i worked a paving detail today with 88F. I heard that if you get shot and did not wear a vest and one was issued to you, your family cannot collect any federal money and even departmen disability is questionable. It sucks, it should be at the discretion of the officer, besides the one I got is one of those on the recall list.
 

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Let me guess...proper uniform equals command presence.

I have my own opinion unlike some who have their opinions issued by their departments. I have found that if you give management an inch they'll be in your face even more then before. But that is just the voice of 20 plus years dealing with management. I could of towed the management line and gone on to having all the little perks of the average house mouse brown noser. But I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror when I shave.
 

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:eek:t:

Off topic posts deleted. Keep it on topic please. This issue is about vests not "How much I hate the MSP" !! :BM:
 

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here... If issued by dept. you are "expected" wear it... All but 1 guy (old timer) wears a vest. During details we are NOT required to wear the vest. During the details most guys just wear their off-duty holster and a set of cuffs with their uniform. makes it alot lighter than duty belt and vest. My Chief is a "Cop" not just an administrator 8)
 

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That sounds like a very fair policy...

here... If issued by dept. you are "expected" wear it... All but 1 guy (old timer) wears a vest. During details we are NOT required to wear the vest. During the details most guys just wear their off-duty holster and a set of cuffs with their uniform. makes it alot lighter than duty belt and vest. My Chief is a "Cop" not just an administrator 8)
 

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This is outrageous. This chief has no right to play with your safety.
Here's an idea - do you know anyone on the town's governing body? If you do, tell them about this on the Q-T. If not, have your union head write them a letter...

Inform them of the liability issue, and the potentially huge cost to the town in the event one of you gets hurt. Remember, they appropriated that money to the police dept. -- and there is probably a line item for equipment.

If your chief is using this money for something OTHER than an equipment expense, that could be called misappropriation of funds. If he is NOT using it at all...most towns demand that unused funds be returned to the town's general fund at the end of the year.
Is he returning those funds every year? Probably not.

Go to the source of the power -- the people that hold the purse strings! Good Luck!
 

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Let me guess...proper uniform equals command presence
If the shoe fits kid, wear it. I can't believe you would argue with this....maybe you should go on patrol and to details dressed in a tank top and flip flops with a gun tucked into your shorts. A few months ago I went to show and the detail cop outside directing traffic (on a four lane road) was dressed like a bike officer with shorts and polo shirt and no traffic vest. People were not stopping or obeying him because they didn't know who he was...he was supposed to be stopping traffic so people could take a left and pedestrians could cross...instead chaos ensued. On details, private entities pay you for your command presence, you should at least feel the obligation to show up in a proper uniform (and on time, but that's another issue). You go out on patrol assuming nothing and anticipating trouble (plan for the worst, hope for the best), why go out on a detail assuming less? Nothing makes me madder than officers saying "it's never happened before, so it will never happen". :shock: Well, most officers have never been in a shootout, why carry a gun?

Sorry to get off topic, mabk14, but I had to vent....as far as your vest problem is concerned, I agree with metrowest...see if you can go to a selectman or the mayor, or, failing that, see if you can get the press on your side. Neither side would like the bad publicity that's bound to ensue. Good luck.
 

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Thank you for calling me "kid" I'll be 44 in October and I am hoping you were calling me a human "kid" and not the goat type.

Command Presence...I love that term.
But a uniform is just clothing and the sooner all PO's realize that the safer this job will be. Certain agencies train their people to dress like recruitment posters and treat their recruits like dog shit in an effort to mold them into a collective. That era of training is long over, but some feel that if they had to go through the torture, then the new people should also. Just think if every amputee thought the same way, we would all be limping around.
 

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I'm looking forward to see how this one comes out. Give them alittle leeway on this topic Gil, because I fight this battle on a daily basis down here in S Florida - image vs. comfort. Its north vs. south all over again :D
 

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A lot of folks are missing the point.

A gun is an essential piece of law enforcement equipment in the US. 50 years ago pepper spray wasn't...now it is...same thing with a bullet proof vest. Would you go on patrol without a gun, what if the gun were too heavy...you didn't like the way it felt in your holster, it made you look fat, it was too hot to wear.

You don't want to wear one, don't make the tax payers buy you one- and leave the money for departments that do plan to use them. It's that simple.

You want to wear it at your leisure, buy one for yourself.

If you are married or have kids, tell them daddy or mommy is too inconvenienced to wear that hot sweaty vest. Tell them that you don't care enough about yourself, them, or your partner to make sure you can do your job as safely as possible and come home at night.

If a perp pulls a gun on you, ask him or her to wait while you drive back to your department get your vest out of you locker and come back.

I think going to the press is a good idea...tell them you want your department to spend money on something you don't want to use. Tell them it could save your life but it might not be comfortable enough to wear while working so you'll plan to get in a gunfight on days that it's cool enough to wear the vest. On hot days...you'll leave your gun and vest at the station because you don't plan to use it. While your at it, maybe leave the radio too...that's sort of heavy...
 
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