New contract for WLPD officers

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor Locks - posted Thu., Mar. 7, 2013

The Windsor Locks Board of Selectmen has approved the new contract between the Windsor Locks Police Commission and I.B.P.O. Local 523. The new contract, what Police Commissioner Kevin Brace considers an undoing of “years of bad policies,” will take the town of Windsor Locks out of a position where it had “increased liability.” Leaders feel the old contract had limited the department’s professional growth and burdened it with policies which were not efficient.

“We all came together and fixed those horrible policies,” said Brace.

Specifically changed was the Officer in Charge (OIC) policy, which allowed for the highest-ranking officer to supervise patrolmen. “If a sergeant used a sick day that left the shift empty, if another sergeant didn’t pick that shift up, then whoever was the highest ranking officer was in charge,” said Brace. “They were put in charge of the whole town, with no additional training… If that officer made a bad decision, they could come back and say, ‘It’s not my fault, you never trained me.” Brace said that the OIC policies across the state of Connecticut have been consistently phased out of use since the 1980s.

Two major issues brought up by the union were salaries and drug and alcohol testing.

Windsor Locks, in comparison to other local towns, is behind the times when it comes to salary rate for its officers. In 2011, a WLPD patrolman was paid $66,481. In 2012, it was raised to $70,281. With this new contract, by 2014 and at step-four, the rate will top out at $72,584. Comparatively, according to findthedata.org, the average annual salary for Connecticut officers is $73,262.

“The town agreed that we needed our salaries adjusted to reflect the surrounding ‘like-towns’ salaries,’” said union president Sebastian Garofalo.

“The officers received an 8.4-percent increase over three years that will make the department competitive with surrounding towns,” said Police Chief Eric Osanitsch.

As for drug policies, “The union’s first proposal was random alcohol and drug testing,” said Garofalo. “We wanted the town to know that their officers are all clean, sober and fit for duty,” he said.

Also, a thorough restructuring of the procedure to become a detective will now help give more officers a chance to achieve that level of professional growth. Detectives will be appointed for three years. Brace sites the Henry Dang incident as being a good example of why the present detective expectations were not meeting the needs of the community. “We had a really big problem with detectives not responding after hours,” said Brace. “No Windsor Locks detectives responded [to the Henry Dang incident], but there was nothing in the contract that would make them,” he said.

“This [restructuring] will provide more opportunities for the officers and make the department well-rounded,” said Osanitsch.

“I’m very happy with how the contract came out,” said First Selectman Steve Wawruck, Jr. “We are one step closer to the professional police department that Chief Osanitsch, the union, and the police commission have promised the residents.”

“We enjoyed the smooth process,” said Garofalo. “We thank all those involved on the negotiating committee and look forward to continuing to serve the people of Windsor Locks and supporting our new chief.”


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