STAMFORD, Conn. — The Daily Voice welcomes signed, original letters to the editor. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To the Editor,
The portrayal of police overtime in the annual coverage of the city’s top 100 wage earners list is disingenuous and misleading. The list intentionally misleads citizens by leaving out critical facts. The time has come to fix the list, making it more accurate and transparent for taxpayers.
Here are the facts:
Much of the overtime Stamford officers earn is from extra-duty pay, which is paid for by the businesses or organization using their services. Stamford’s Police extra-duty program puts an additional uniformed police presence on the street without cost to taxpayers. This is critical as a visual deterrent to crime that just cannot be measured.
The City of Stamford’s treasury even earns a 16% administrative commission (or $1.2 million in 2010 and about $1.035 million in 2012, for example) on extra duty.
Stamford’s police department is understaffed by design, having lost some four dozen positions over the past six years, yet our city is consistently ranked one of the safest, most livable cities in America. Let’s acknowledge that policing is a 24/7 job and to maintain public safety requires a minimum contingent of officers patrolling the city’s various neighborhoods.
It is critical to point out that if the annual ranking excluded privately funded extra-duty pay and ONLY considered taxpayer funded wages, the Board of Education, which eats up 62 percent of the city’s budget, would take over 48% of the top pay list, while police would fall back to 35%, according to the 2011 ranking. There are more school administrators than police officers in the top 100 when only city wages are factored in.
In 2002, Stamford had 315 police officers and today has 46 less, or just 269 for the same number of patrol shifts and neighborhoods. Bridgeport, with a nearly identical population, has 425 officers or 156 (36%) more cops than Stamford. It’s a tribute we’ve kept Stamford one of America’s safest big cities, considering that considerable manpower shortage. I salute my fellow officers and police commanders for doing an excellent job with insufficient resources.
Sgt. Joseph Kennedy, president of the Stamford Police Association