San Gabriel Residents,
Thank you for your participation today in National Night Out. This event is designed to foster cooperation between police and citizens in combating crime and insuring safe neighborhoods through communication and awareness. The S.G.P.O.A. is grateful for the partnerships we have with you in keeping San Gabriel safe!
In the spirit of open communication, we feel it is important for you to know some of the challenges we face in the days ahead, challenges that could impact the safety of your neighborhoods. Should you have any questions about this information, please contact one of our off-duty S.G.P.O.A. members tonight, or contact us through our website.
#1: After approx. seven months of contract negotiations with the city, which started three months after our most recent contract expired in June of 2014, the CITY declared impasse against us and walked away from the bargaining table. Several of our senior officers with over 27 years of service cannot remember this ever happening in their time with the city.
They fully acknowledge that they were late in taking up the matter because the City Council had more important and pressing budget matters to deal with. Even so, we had largely agreed to the most costly components of a future contract, and we're trying to resolve NO COST, quality of life issues that would have greatly increased moral. They refused any further discussion on these issues, pulled the offer on the table and imposed an across the board contract with no increases in any salary or benefits until 06-30-2015, which has now passed.
This was in stark contrast to the retroactive salary and benefits increases to all other city employees under the current contract that took effect 07-01-14.
#2: The members of the S.G.P.O.A. have taken salary and benefit cuts over the last eight years in response to the threat that our failure to do so would result in lay-offs to police officers. We currently earn approx. 3% less now than eight years ago. This, coupled with mandatory cuts in pay and benefits for all new hires, have led to many talented officers leaving, and we are unable to find talented, quality recruits to take their place.
This means simply there are less police officers on the force, and on the streets. The on-duty officers you see tonight will most likely be detectives in uniform, or off-duty officers being paid overtime to be here for this event.
#3: On most day and night shifts, we are operating at minimum staffing levels of four officers for the entire city. That’s right, 4 officers! On some rare occasions we may have five in the field, in addition to a sergeant and a lieutenant. These supervisors have many collateral and administrative duties, and do not typically respond to calls for service as the field units do. San Gabriel does not field two-man units. If you see a two-man field unit, the most likely reason is that one of them is in training.
Even with this low minimum staffing number, we still often have members forced to stay over up to a 16 hour maximum to cover personnel shortages. These officers then get 8 hours off and report again for another full 12 hour shift. This situation has continued for some time due to our inability to recruit new officers with the low pay and benefits currently offered by the city.
#4: The S.G.P.O.A. is currently in the bottom 20% of pay and benefits compared with our 10 survey cities, placing us in ninth place out of ten cities. If you were a smart, talented police recruit, would you apply with the agencies at the bottom, or at the top?
#5: The San Gabriel City Council, in their recently adopted 2015-2016 budget, has predicted an INCREASE in crime for the coming year. This same budget gives no mention of any plan or strategy to combat this, and makes no other mention of any increase in police services to deal with this issue. If there is no change in the current situation with regards to pay or benefits, or any enticement to new-hires to join the San Gabriel family, how will the city council convince new businesses that San Gabriel is the best place for them to be?
How will we keep the current tax base intact?
If you were planning to move here, or open a business, is that what you would want to hear about the city you were interested in?
#6: Being at the bottom of our survey, and having gone so long without any meaningful increases under the threat of layoffs, has had serious effects on overall moral within the police department. During these lean times, we have tried to negotiate several changes in our overall working conditions that would have no cost whatsoever to the city. Almost all attempts at this have failed, and current administration no longer wishes to discuss these matters with us.
If you owned a business and had no extra money for employee wage increases, but could improve moral with no-cost improvements, why wouldn’t you do this?
If you have questions about this information, ask us. Or, better yet, ask your city leaders!