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Officer Down

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NEWS: Oak Park officers shun CTA security detail

--Increase in number of officers needed but a cut to the hourly rate?
If I was in their union I would be doing some FOIA requests to get a hold of the actual contacts between the CTA and the Village.
While $30 per hour is a decent wage, past practice and contacts appear to show that officers received at least their regular hourly rate of pay.
I understand the need to maybe bring it to a flat rate for bookkeeping purposes but then it should have been at least in between $34 and $48 per hour.--

Story at Pioneer Press

March 25, 2013

OAK PARK — A reduction in hourly pay for off-duty security assignments on local CTA transit routes has resulted in a steep drop in the number of Oak Park officers volunteering for those six-hour shifts.

Under terms of a previous intergovernmental agreement between the village of Oak Park and the Chicago Transit Authority, officers were paid at their current straight time rate, which ranges from about $34 per hour to $48 per hour, depending on seniority and rank.

The new agreement, effective Jan. 6, calls for officers working the CTA Special Detail to be paid a flat $30 per hour.

Officers cover three CTA routes in Oak Park: the Green and Blue rail lines and the No. 91 Austin Boulevard bus.

According to documents received by Oak Leaves, the pay decrease is the result of an effort by Oak Park police management and the CTA to address an increase in 2012 crime on CTA property.

In a Dec. 17 memo, Police Chief Rick Tanksley told all sworn officers that “in consultation with CTA management” the department would provide both morning and afternoon coverage to counter what he called a “slight uptick” in crime.

But the CTA wasn’t paying more; the new agreement with Oak Park calls for a payment not to exceed $264,921 for this year. That’s the same as for the previous pact, approved in 2007.

In other words, by paying less per shift, the village wants to use the same amount of money to fund more shifts. Instead, however, those added morning shifts — and many others — are going unfilled.

Tanksley told his officers there would be additional morning shift coverage on the Green and Blue lines, and that the pay rate would be a flat $30 an hour, effective Jan. 6.

That is, Tanksley noted, is the same rate of pay for off-duty details elsewhere in the village

Evanston’s new agreement with the CTA, reached in November, pays $200,112 per year, at a flat reimbursement rate of $38 an hour.

The change in pay was reportedly the focus of a police union grievance meeting with Oak Park Village Manager Cara Pavlicek on Friday.

A police source familiar with the issue said the two sides have been trying since January to resolve the issue.

“I’m not going to comment on a grievance,” Pavlicek said Friday. She also declined to discuss the village’s new agreement with the CTA.

“I would if I had it in front of me,” she said.

She also said she was not familiar with Evanston’s deal with the CTA.

She referred all further questions to Tanksley or village spokesman David Powers.

Tanksley was not immediately available Monday, after being out of the office on Friday.

Monday afternoon, Village President David Pope said there were legal reasons for declining comment.

“Because this is the subject of a pending grievance, it is a personnel matter that no one from the village can discuss,” Pope said. “It’s not surprising to me that Cara and other staff indicated that they could not provide substantive comment at this time.”

The drop off in volunteer CTA coverage has been stark.

The final 28-day calendar under the old contract terms was for Dec. 3-Dec. 30; in that period, only the Dec. 24-25 shifts were uncovered. Of the remaining 26 days, 76 of 78 shifts were covered, with all three shifts covered 24 days. Only the Austin bus route was uncovered for two days.

Once the new contract took effect, the number of shifts covered plummeted.

Only four officers volunteered to cover a total of 13 of 84 afternoon shifts from Jan. 7 through Feb. 3. No officer signed up for morning shift work.

The situation improved slightly in February, with eight different officers covering 19 of 84 afternoon shifts, 16 on the Green Line, two on the Blue Line and one on the Austin bus route.

In February, the department ordered on-duty officers to cover the Green and Blue line trains for 90-minute periods in the afternoons.

On the latest calendar, covering March 4-March 26, nine of 23 days have gone uncovered, with just 18 of 69 shifts covered by four officers.

“We’re putting out the impression that (police) are out there, but they’re not,” said one officer, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter.

That officer also scoffed at the effectiveness of new morning shifts, saying, “The criminals are not out robbing people in the mornings, they’re robbing people in the evenings.”

Oak Park’s CTA agreement calls for police to maintain, among other things, “daily logs and statistics on CTA incidents, crimes, fires, arrests, etc.” A summary of those statistics are required to be forwarded to the CTA in a monthly report.

Oak Leaves filed a Freedom of Information request for those reports with the CTA on March 4. As of March 25, six working days past the legally extended deadline, the CTA has not released the requested information or otherwise responded as required under Illinois law.

The CTA Secondary Employment Detail has been in existence since 1990.

Prior to that, the task of providing CTA security took on-duty officers away from street patrols. Tanksley noted that benefit in a brief to the village board in October, saying the agreement allows “on-duty personnel (to) concentrate on patrol duties within their assigned beats.”