1. PRIORITIES: 20‐Year retirement for members of the Agency Police Services Unit
Nearly all New York State police officers, as well as most other members of the New York State Police and Fire Retirement System, have a retirement plan from which they can receive 50% of their final average salary after 20 years of service, with 1.66% for each additional year of service, up to a maximum of 70% at 32 years of service. PBA of NYS members, however, are not entitled to 20‐year retirement plan benefits. Instead, PBA of NYS members have a 25‐year retirement in which they receive 50% of their final average salary after 25 years, and 1.66% for each additional year of service.
There is no valid justification why members of the PBA of NYS are not entitled to such benefits. Members of the PBA of NYS have job responsibilities that are no less dangerous than other police officers. Training for the four state police forces include, but are not limited to, not only general policing but specialty rescues in swift water, high altitudes, inclement weather including ice and snow, helicopter and maritime techniques as well as counter-terrorism tactics specific to their responsibilities throughout the state. Without providing PBA of NYS members with 20year retirement benefits, it will continue to be difficult to attract the best and brightest new members that are able to receive such benefits within other branches of law enforcement.
I believe all employees should receive adequate compensation for retirement. To the extent such employees ‘burn out’ or become unable to effectively and safely carry out their assigned tasks, which happens as people grow older, then they should be encouraged to retire (with some benefits) and seek other employment. To the extent they can stay on in some capacity and provide a beneficial service to the organization, they should be allowed to accumulate additional retirement benefits (especially in light of the fact that by staying on and postponing their retirement they are not depleting the pool of funds). Uniform practice should be a mandate, across the board.
2. PRIORITIES: Heart Presumption Provision for NYS University Police 5 | P a g e
The PBA of NYS strongly supports adding NYS University Police to the list of those receiving a “heart presumption”. Most police officers in this state are afforded the protections of this provision in the retirement and social security law, which creates a presumption that any condition of impairment of health caused by diseases of the heart, resulting in disability or death to police officers and certain other first responders shall be presumptive evidence that it was incurred in the performance and discharge of duty. New York State University Police Officers are inexplicably excluded in the categories of police officers that are protected by this statute, despite the fact that they work dangerous, physically demanding, and stressful jobs.
I believe it should not matter what job you hold, the stress in the job is something every conscientious worker will endure at times. But even those conditions caused by one’s habits or one’s genetics, the treatment, and benefits should be equivalent to the part of the government. My basic premise is, the government should not give a benefit to someone that is not given to everyone.
3 PRIORITIES: Safe Staffing Needs
Park Police, Environmental Conservation Officers (“ECOs”), and Forest Rangers are experiencing serious deficiencies in their staffing levels. Numerous years without academies and large classes reaching retirement age has led to critical gaps in coverage throughout the state. While there have been some academies for these titles, the divisions are not keeping pace with attrition. Furthermore, the ranks of the Forest Rangers are currently insufficient to cover the growing territory they serve. The Legislature has been reluctant to add funding to the budget for agency staffing needs in the past. What is your position on funding staffing efforts and how can you help both replenish the ranks of the ECOs and Park Police and add new Forest Ranger positions to the state budget?
To the extent there is a need for staff, that need should be addressed through advertising and promotion – at universities, at high schools, via local government outlets, online, etc. Unless you can get the demand up for education and training, the legislature will be reluctant to dedicate and spend money on academies. Also, as far as training, a solution that can be implemented is the use of online courses, which could supplement much of the in-person classes, leaving the physical experience and training for ‘field practice’ times.
4. PRIORITIES: Add 3/4 Accidental Disability Provisions for Environmental Conservation Officers and Park Police Officers
Nearly all police officers in New York state as well as most members of the New York State Police and Fire Retirement System have 3/4 Accidental Disability
provisions. This legislation seeks to provide parity among the 4 titles of the PBA of NYS in the event a member becomes physically or mentally incapacitated due to an accident while performing his or her job. Members of the PBA of NYS, while fulfilling their job responsibilities, should be assured that he or she will be eligible for three-quarter accidental disability benefits if he or she becomes injured due to an incident that is completely out of that member’s control. Nearly all other branches of law enforcement receive three quarter disability benefits and there is no valid justification why all the members of the PBA of NYS do not receive the same disability benefits.
As I stated above, I believe no one should receive a benefit that is not offered to everyone.
5. PRIORITIES: Park Police Merger with the New York State Police
The New York State Park Police continues to be severely understaffed to meet the needs of the public, fulfill their agency mission, and ensure overall safety in the state’s park system. The Governor has taken steps to allow some, but not all, of the New York State Park Police members to transfer to the New York State Police. This will have the dual effect of stripping the state parks of their already dwindling number of Park Police Officers while leaving those who remain in an agency that will be continually diminished to the point of extinction. Do you believe this misguided plan is fair to New York State Park Police members or that it will ensure sufficient police protection in the New York state parks?
I believe that utilizing NYS Park Police for other State Police activities is reasonable. If doing so is causing a shortage, those shortages should be documented so that they can be addressed and justified to reinstate or hire, park police officers. I would not just assume that the initial staffing was needed and would first determine if the added staff was ‘fluff’. If it was needed, then the question would be, is it still needed.
6. Repeal of Section 50‐a of the NYS Civil Rights Law
Some lawmakers are proposing to repeal or significantly amend §50‐a of the New York State Civil Rights Law (“NYSCRL”), which protects personnel records of police officers and other public safety professionals from being publicly disclosed. Would you vote for repeal or amendments to NYSCRL § 50‐a?
Please explain why you would or would not support repeal or amendment.
I would support the release of any documents and records dealing with reprimands and internal records regarding a police officer’s conduct while on the job, and any records of extracurricular activities which required police
intervention of any type. To me, those are not private records. Any other records, such as residence address, health records, individuals they associate with (as long as the association did not involve at any time a police investigation or intervention), etc. are private and should not be included unless the officer agrees to their becoming public. What officers are paid, since they are being paid by public tax funds, should be a matter of public record.
7. Do you support the preservation of the Taylor Law and the Tri‐borough Amendment?
Yes. I support the Tri-borough Amendment. And, No. I don’t support some aspects of the Taylor Law. I do support the right to strike. I also support the concept of the need for negotiations. Having been through arbitration, and realizing that many placed in an arbitration situation do not negotiate in good faith, the arbitration step must have a time limit. When that time is up, the right to strike should be implementable without penalties and without the fear of penalties. I support the obligation to continue the current contract as long as there is no strike and both sides are agreeable to do so. However, because we are talking about ‘public workers’, they have to realize that the legislature can intervene and just pass a law dictating their pay and benefits. One of the ‘benefits’ they currently receive that I believe justifies this stance is the ‘check-off’, whereby the state pays the individual’s union dues from the taxes they would have paid to the state: The payment of membership dues out of taxes for each individual is a perk provided by the taxpayer, and as such, each union member should consider themselves as a stand-in for the taxpayer. For that reason, temporary termination of payments of taxpayer money to the union should always be an option on the table. I would also support the creation of metrics that tie in, in some fashion, the salaries and benefits of public employees to that of the average (or mean) worker in the state. The current structure, with no apparent limits to the compensation of government workers, is dividing the state into an upper class, the “Ruling” class that demand perks and more pay and a lower class, the peasants, who are paying for those perks and have not effectively seen a pay increase in years.
8. Do you support keeping specific binding arbitration provisions for police officers and firefighters as they currently exist in the Taylor Law, or do you support changes? If you support changes, please explain what those specific changes would be and why you would support them.
See above. A benefit given to anyone placed in charge of society should be given (or at least be reasonably available) to everyone in society. Otherwise, you are creating a situation that is tantamount to an application of tyranny.
9. Rising Cost of Health Insurance Over the past several years, the state of New York has responded to the rising costs of health insurance by increasing costs to employees and retirees. Do you support increasing health care costs to employees or retirees?
Yes. But, more has to be done to control the cost of health care. One of those action items needs to be to put an end to fraudulent billing and accounting practices – which the state and the ‘Affordable Health Care” act has encouraged the health care facilities to implement. We need to recognize that the Affordable Health Care Act itself is a taxation bill, which places taxes on medical equipment and goods that incorporated into the ‘cost to make the item’. We need to recognize that the added bureaucracy has increased costs for Doctors. Those costs are an increased cost of business and are passed on as an increased cost to health insurance providers to pay. Instead of putting up with the bureaucracy, many doctors have decided to leave the field and some facilities have just closed. The result is an increasing scarcity of doctors and facilities. The result, the cost of medical services will go up. We need to return the oversight of the health care insurance field back to free enterprise and remove the government intrusion into the field.
10. Health care needs because of COVID-19 Do you support legislation that creates a presumption that impairment of health caused by COVID‐19 was incurred in the performance and discharge of the duty of certain police, parole and probation officers, and other emergency responders?
No. I can no more support the presumption that police officers incurred Covid19 in their performance of their job than I could support a presumption that a member of the public who has the previous contact with a police officer was impaired with Covid19 because of that contact. But that should not matter anyway. If a person has Covid19, they should be treated and cared for regardless of the source of the Covid19. If the presumption is being sought so that extended benefits can be granted, I would be opposed to that legislation. I stand firm on the principle that no benefit should be given to anyone in public service that is not granted to everyone in society.
11. Cutting Funding for Agencies and First Responders Are you willing to advocate against New York State cutting funding for agencies and first responders?
No. Budgets should be rationally evaluated based on need and function, not based on some ‘political goal’. I am willing to support raising or cutting the budgets of first responders and agencies when the need is demonstrated.
12. Cutting Funding If so, how would you respond to a proposal by the Executive to cut funding to various agencies that employ first responders such as DEC, SUNY, and OPRHP?
I would suggest that the legislature first look at the overall budget and determine where they can cut without losing function. I would suggest they evaluate everyone’s activities, including the agencies and the first responders, to determine if there is a full time or part-time need for those individuals and services. Then pursue budget changes to reflect the needs and services required to run the agencies and provide the services.
13. Do you Support Assigning First Responders as Essential Staff New York State agencies permanently assigning first responders as essential staff to avoid layoffs if New York state makes budget cuts?
No. Not as a policy. If there is no need for such an assignment, don’t make it. If there is a need, the assignment as an essential staff should be made.
14. Do you oppose layoffs of any New York State employees?
No. I do not believe every NYS employee is essential. If it is determined that some individuals just put in the time and collect a paycheck, they should be let go (or at least laid off).
15. In two pages or fewer, please attach any additional details about your political platform that you want us to know.
I believe we live with tyranny and we call have been led to view it as ‘just our good government’ in action. We have distorted the pay structure in this country to the point where we actually have an upper class of government workers and officials whose benefits continue to increase, and the lower class of workers, the peasant body, that is continually being issued new taxes and fees and fines as a way to pay for the upper class’s benefits and activities.