Kendall Club: Officers Dealing With More Guns, Crime

A recent article addressed compensation paid to city officials. In the interest of providing taxpayers additional relevant information, the Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association (the Union representing Jamestown Police Officers, Sergeants, and Lieutenants), wishes to provide the following information.

For the record, a starting Police Officer in Jamestown earns $49,552 a year. Comparing that salary to other local municipalities, a starting Police Officer in Dunkirk in 2017, for example, earned $10,087 more than a starting police officer in the city of Jamestown. Our analysis of comparable communities prepared for our recent arbitration case reflects that the evidence establishes that out of 10 comparable communities in New York, the top police officer pay in the city of Jamestown was sixth (lowest) out of 10 communities. City police officers are not regularly receiving the pay that was outlined in the recent article, instead that pay was received by individuals in non-union management positions and/or retirees who may also be receiving lump-sum cash outs of accrued vacation days and sick pay that were not used during active duty.

As to staffing, the Jamestown Police Department is down 10 police officer positions since 2000. In 2000, there were 70 police officer positions, and today there are only 60 (including sergeants, lieutenants, and the animal control officer). The police chief has consistently requested three additional positions each year. Why? Because there is a drastic need for additional staff to fight the ever growing drug and gun crime in our city.

The Kendall Club and the city share a mutual goal — that is to serve and protect our community. We need to attract and keep qualified police officers to obtain that goal. As recently presented in the arbitration for the 2016-2017 contract years before a three person panel of arbitrators with Dr. Howard Foster as chairman (an arbitrator who has written approximately 1,000 decisions including 20 interest arbitration awards) Jamestown has become a very challenging community given the explosion of drug and gun crime. New York State Civil Service Law Section 209(4)(c) requires the consideration of criminal activity in the community in setting wages and benefits for police officers.

In reviewing the 2017 FBI Crime Statistics for 18 communities used for comparisons during the arbitration, including communities selected by the city, the Kendall Club and four communities jointly selected by both parties, the city of Jamestown’s crime rankings by the FBI verify what we are witnessing every day. Of the 18 comparable communities, the city of Jamestown ranked 16th, 17th, or 18th (worst) out of 18 comparable communities in the 2017 FBI Crime Statistics in 8 out of 10 crime categories.

The point of comparison of crime rates and pay rates is best illustrated by comparing, for example, North Tonawanda (population of 30,452) and the City of Jamestown (population 29,562). Incidentally, both the City of Jamestown and the Kendall Club agreed that North Tonawanda was a proper comparison community in the recent arbitration. Comparing pay rates for 2016 and 2017, the years in dispute before the arbitrators, a starting Police Officer in North Tonawanda earned $12,864 more than a starting Jamestown Police Officer in 2016, and $14,112 more in 2017. In contrast, Jamestown’s FBI crime rankings (based on the 18 comparable communities) is worse in every crime category than North Tonawanda, with Jamestown ranking in the bottom three worst in 8 out of 10 of the crime categories (for example: violent crime, murder, rape, etc.).

Violent Crime: N. Tonawanda, 6th of 18; Jamestown, 16th of 18

Murder: N. Tonawanda, 0 (one of nine communities with 0); Jamestown, 18th of 18 (tied)

Rape: N. Tonawanda, 12th of 18: Jamestown, 16th of 18

Robbery: N. Tonawanda, 5th of 18; Jamestown, 16th of 18

Aggr. Assault: N. Tonawanda, 3rd of 18 (tied with Dunkirk); Jamestown, 16th of 18

Property Crime: N. Tonawanda, 6th of 18; Jamestown, 12th of 18

Burglary: N. Tonawanda, 8th of 18; Jamestown, 16th of 18

Larceny/Theft: N. Tonawanda, 5th of 18; Jamestown, 11th of 18

Motor Vehicle Theft: N. Tonawanda, 12th of 18; Jamestown, 16th of 18

Arson: N. Tonawanda, 5th of 18 (tied with town of Tonawanda); Jamestown, 17th of 18

The unfortunate reality is that Jamestown has become a very challenging community due to drug and gun crime. The November 17, 2017, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) Initiative Report further confirms our city’s reality in reporting that firearm related violent crimes have grown by 21.8% (percent change 10 year average vs. 2016) which reflects a whopping 92.9% change 10 year average vs. 2016.

The Kendall Club members are proud to protect and serve the taxpayers of the city of Jamestown. Addressing the drugs and guns ever present each and every day in our community is a challenge we will win. When it comes to protecting our families, losing this war against drugs and guns is not an alternative.

The Kendall Club stands ready and willing to balance the needs of its members with the financial challenges of the city, however, police and fire safety must clearly be a priority in our community.

The Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association Executive Board includes Tim Jackson, president; Sam Piazza, vice president; Jason Donato, second vice president; Corry Moore, secretary; Doug Weaver, treasurer; Greg Fye, parliamentarian; and Kyle Sorenson, sergeant-at-arms.