My name is Ray Andolina, 475 North Ave, New Rochelle.
I am the President of the New Rochelle Police Association.
Good evening Mr. Mayor, Mr. City Manager, Council members and the citizens of New Rochelle.
Mr. Mayor, for many years, we have heard both you and the City Manager say, on many occasions that you believe that New Rochelle has the best police force in Westchester, the State, if not the Country. I couldn't agree more. It's now time for both of you, and this council, to back up those statements to keep it that way.
We are here tonight; once again, to express our continued and increasing concern regarding the safety of our members, the safety of the public and the apparent unwillingness of the city to negotiate a fair collective bargaining agreement. Last October my predecessor, Claudio Carpano, addressed this council on this subject and correctly warned of our extreme concern with the proposed number of budgeted police officers as being too low. The warning was eventually ignored and the 2013 budget was recently adopted.
It cannot be ignored however, that this city has taken the safety and security of its police officers and its citizens way too lightly.
As of today, we are now down an unacceptable 40 police officers since 2010. We anticipate losing another 5 officers before year's end and another 30 over the next 5 years. This is a conservative estimate based on what we have lost over the last five years through attrition.
You have to understand that these experienced officers cannot be easily replaced. It can take a year, or longer, to hire, train and evaluate any new officer and many years after that to learn all the nuances of being a well rounded police officer. This continued reduction of Police Officers is not only unacceptable, but flat out irresponsible
Manpower issues combined with the fact that we are in an unprecedented 4th year without a collective bargaining agreement, has stressed our membership to the point where we are rightfully questioning your commitment to provide us with what we need to do our jobs at the highest level. This is what the citizens of New Rochelle have come to expect and what we continue to expect of ourselves.
Ladies and gentlemen, the practice of balancing the city budget on our backs has ended. The time of jeopardizing our safety and the safety of its citizens has ended.
We are requesting, once again, a resolution of our safety concerns and a resolution to a fair collective bargaining agreement! We are, and have been, willing to work with the city to reach a fair collective bargaining agreement that benefits the long term health of New Rochelle and its police officers.
Although the morale of our members is at an all time low because of the lack of support the city has shown us, our resolve is strong. We can no longer be silent until these issues are addressed and rightfully corrected.