In the February 28, 2013 WestchesterGuardian.com
Despite a secretive executive session the week before, New Rochelle City Council on February 19, 2013 voted against creating three Assistant Police Commissioner positions. City Manager Chuck Strome reported that the Civil Service Commission had approved the positions last October. But the next step needed after Council approval would be to obtain permission for a change from civil service appointments to management positions from PERB (Public Employment Relations Board). Under the present civil service organization, New Rochelle Police superior officers include sergeants, lieutenants and captains.
While the claim was made that the City Council was exposed to this possible change since August, Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll who has worked in New Rochelle for 17 years, went further, saying the change was being considered five years ago. There are presently three captains in the department who are running three central sections. The lack of ability to remove captains or to make them retire were key points in Carroll's interest in making "it happen." An extended discussion about the effect on retirement benefits ensued. Strome said it was possible the City might pay less into the retirement system because of the title change.
Opposition was initiated by Jared Rice who said he didn't know if "today is the day to move" on this change. Another concern was raised by Councilman Albert Tarantino who wanted to know if there have been any problems with the current Police Captains. Carroll's answer suggested problems by saying if two of your captains don't want to work with you and if they fight you, you "could be up against a tough battle." But Tarantino persisted, asking if the change would make it easier or harder to discipline subordinates. After some discussion Tarantino concluded there are assumptions here but no facts.
Asserting this is a budget issue because City Council has to fund the position, Councilwoman Shari Rackman said the issue is whether to send the change to PERB. Strome again stated this change could lead to savings because the new positions would have no overtime pay. He later added there has been no contract for these officers since 2009. When Councilman Barry Fertel questioned why there is such opposition to the change, Carroll replied if the change was made he personally would try to be a "star" trying to get the position. According to Strome, the union was opposing the change and "had every right to oppose it."
In a discussion about pension benefits Carroll claimed the change would be an incentive for officers to stay because the present pension is capped after 20 years until age 62 is reached. Under the City code the retirement age is 62. Under the new system there is no 50% cap so it is more likely officers would retire earlier.
After a discussion about the present Civil Service rules that necessitate choosing off a list when a vacancy exists, Rackman wanted to know how many superior officers had been disciplined. Carroll answered, "a handful."
At this point Mayor Noam Bramson said he had held back his view but felt they were not seeing the forest for the trees. He felt it was necessary for the Police Commissioner to have the power to hire and fire police captains and flexibility in hiring as needed. Summing up his feelings he said, if the Council is not going to trust our City Manager, they should "get a new City Manager."
When the vote was taken there were five votes against the resolution with Councilman Fertel and Mayor Bramson voting in favor.