Police Union Offered Concessions

The recent Hartford Courant anti-police editorial [Oct. 22, “Moody’s Right To Point To Hartford’s Unions”] failed to mention that Mayor Luke Bronin, not the Hartford Police Union, has refused to bargain in good faith, as millions of dollars in concessions have been offered by the union yet declined by the mayor.

Despite Hartford being one of the lowest-paid departments in Connecticut, Mayor Bronin has publicly stated police officers are overcompensated. New members of the department earn $835.86/week, and after deductions such as health care and pensions, earn $517.84/week or $12.95/hour. This is for a position with a high likelihood of being injured, one that requires nine months of training, in a city that has had 25 murders this year. Compared to a much safer municipality, such as West Hartford, new officers in Hartford earn $18,000 less annually.

Furthermore, the Bronin administration has complicated negotiations by settling a lawsuit brought against the city and forcing officers to pay the judgment, even when the officers had not been charged criminally or administratively. In fact, just last month, U.S. Federal Judge William I. Garfinkel harshly criticized Mayor Bronin in a separate case by ruling “The City’s position, in addition to being unsupported by precedent, is bewildering. How can Hartford maintain a qualified police force when it is willing to expose its officers to personal liability for compensatory damages for civil rights judgments? What capable officer, in his or her right mind, would want to work for such a city?”

The mayor points to pension costs yet refuses to mention that officers receive no social security and that officers contribute to their own pensions, contributing four times more than most state employees.

The Hartford Police Department is 150 officers below optimum staffing levels and has been without a contract since July 2016 because of Mayor Bronin. Blaming police may be convenient, but it certainly isn’t fair or appropriate. The Courant failed to complete their research and paint an accurate picture.

Sgt. John Szewczyk, Hartford

The writer is the president of the Hartford Police Union.

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