In a meeting Tuesday, Mayor Littlefield stated "The (Chattanooga) police have not been cut or shortchanged. In fact, we have increased pay, privileges and benefits.”
As one of those police officers, I find this fascinating.
The mayor went on to tell the City Council members that if they restore take-home car privileges for police officers who live outside the city limits, the cost to the city would be $1,245,000. In the same statement, he also said the move to a charge for officers who live out of the city saved the city $765,000. Therefore added together, that means that the take-home cars for its police officers costs the city $2,010,000; this was echoed by Dan Johnson (Mr. Littlefield’s chief of staff) in the same meeting. That said:
Does anyone else remember that just two years ago, this problem was resolved for all officers by taking between $400,000 and $600,000 from the red light camera coffers? (Bear with me on all these numbers, I have a point.)
The mayor then said the administration is planning to “boost police pay in the upcoming budget to the tune of $1.2 million.”
What an incredibly convenient number; with the apparent $1,410,000 increase in take-home costs in the last two years (they were unable to break down how they arrived at this during the meeting), this number now exactly matches the amount owed to police officers who earned higher rank under the mayor's program. For the record, this isn’t a “boost” in pay; it is a “balloon payment” for officers and it doesn’t even include pay from the time they earned it; they just lost it. Did the mayor fail to state that it was a balloon payment for debts unpaid under the program he implemented after a two-year, $200,000 “study”? A coincidence, I suppose.
He also noted there have been back-to-back police academies. What he failed to mention is that this is the result of a two-year hiring freeze, and when they did start an academy it took nine months for them to complete training…meaning we had no incoming officers for three years, while roughly 120 officers retired, resigned, or were fired per year.
We were nearly 19 percent shorthanded and this was while pay was frozen for our officers. It was after this he took police response cars away, and all while annexing more land from county citizens and businesses, and pushing for metropolitan government.
So many “coincidences” in such a short time. (In police work, we have a word for that…but it wouldn’t get published.)
As of this writing, we have had over 30 shootings in this city this calendar year, a chemical accident quarantined the Police Service Center where emergency vehicles are now stored, and we’ve experienced a natural disaster…and this is May 1st. The mayor has frozen hiring of police for effectively three years, frozen their pay, and taken response vehicles from your first line of defense to save money by having SWAT officers and detectives pass crime scenes to get to their equipment, and he looks you straight in the eye and says, "The (Chattanooga) police have not been cut or shortchanged. In fact, we have increased pay, privileges and benefits.”
I myself have received one pay increase in six years that I recall, and that was under threat of litigation for violations of Title VII (the Equal Pay / Civil Rights Act). My sixth year as a police sergeant, and I am paid less than someone promoted three weeks ago and I store Homeland Security first response equipment in the back seat of a Ford Focus parked off of Amnicola Highway…and these are increased pay, privileges, and benefits?
Cops are used to futility; it’s part of the job, but the citizens and elected officials shouldn’t be used to it. This opinion piece will result in nothing but allowing me to look myself in the mirror, but at least it’s out there. Right next to all these amazing coincidences.
Sgt. Craig Joel
Fraternal Order of Police
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At the most, Chattanooga Police Officers with take home cars should only pay mileage from the city limits to their homes and not from the Police Service Center. I know an officer that lives .3 miles outside of the city limits but would have to pay mileage from the Police Service Center if he opted to drive his vehicle home.
A few months ago a situation occurred at a chemical plant on Amnicola Highway and the highway was shut down near the Police Service Center. What is going to happen when a tornado hits within the city limits and officers can't get to their vehicles or what if a tornado hits at the police service center and wipes out all of the parked police cars? Is the mayor or City Council going to do a house to house search for those injuried?
John C. Schultz
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Although I prefer Sgt Joel's detailed version of the lies that have been told to the police every six months, I'd like to explain in short form for ones in a hurry.
Think of it like this. The police stop a D.U.I. due to the car weaving across the marked roadway. Once stopped, the driver stumbles out of the car. His pants wet with urine. The driver smells of alcohol and has slurred speech and red glossy eyes. The police ask the driver how much he has had to drink. The answer is the same lie time after time. "Two beers." In case you missed it, City Hall is the driver.
I have been employed by the Chattanooga Police Department for 26 years now and know that being lied to by suspects is the norm in this line of work. I now have to admit, I'm sick of the lies coming from the elected leaders. America has Obama and his White House and we have Littlefield and city hall. God help us.