Mayor Ron Littlefield's office on Wednesday issued a response to remarks made to the City Council Tuesday night and suggested that $1.3 million for the police career development program be withdrawn.
The statement says, "This administration hesitates at throwing another $1.3 million into a career development program that representatives of the police department are not satisfied is equitable. It may be best to hold off on funding the POCD and instead, fund a career advancement study for the police department to determine the best way to move forward.
Additional, it is imperative that all career development programs be managed by the City of Chattanooga Personnel Department (in cooperation with CPD administration, of course) to ensure objectivity and equity for all participants."
Sgt. Joel issued a response in which he called Mayor Littlefield "Bully of the Year."
Richard Beeland of the mayor's office said, "We felt the need to clarify some of the information that Officer Craig Joel provided during the public comment portion of last night’s meeting. We understand that Mr. Joel was not in his official capacity as a Chattanooga Police Department Sergeant. However, some of his statements require correction.
"According to the recording of last evening meeting, Mr. Joel said: 'When I was promoted in 2006 my pay was adjusted once by a new plan that was put into place. That pay stayed the same in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010…'
"According to records obtained from the Personnel Department, Mr. Joel has received the following pay increases: ·
"July 1, 2006 – annual rate of pay changed from $36,658.00 to $37,758.00 (3% increase)·
"July 21, 2006 – annual rate of pay changed from $37,758.00 to $40,518.00 (promotion to Sergeant – 7.3% increase)·
"July 1, 2007 – annual rate of pay changed from $40,518.00 to $41,734.00 (3% increase)·
"January 1, 2008 – annual rate of pay changed from $41,734.00 to $43,692.00 (4.69% increase)
"July 1, 2010 – annual rate of pay changed from $43,692.00 to $54,000.00 (23.592% increase)
"Mr. Joel also said, 'Officers who have been there three years or less are not eligible' to participate in the Police Officer Career Development (POCD) program. That is inaccurate. The clock on the 'three years' starts when an officer begins an academy, which is their first day of employment with the city. After completing one year of employment (including the academy), an officer receives a 'cadet bump' and achieves the rank of Police Officer 1 which includes a 5.3 percent increase in pay.
"In practice and according to the POCD policy manual within the Police Department, an officer is eligible to participate in POCD at the three year mark (just two years from their prior pay increase). During this two-year period, an officer can be fulfilling the necessary training that will allow for advancement on the career ladder (next step is Police Officer II) which includes a six percent pay increase once they reach the three year mark.
"The next step in the POCD program is Police Officer III and can be achieved after five cumulative years of employment which already includes two prior ranks and two prior pay increases and has an additional six percent pay increase. The final rung on the “career ladder” is the Master Police Officer. This can be achieved after 10 cumulative years of employment and includes three prior pay increases and an additional six percent increase. All advancements in the POCD program have built-in pay increases. Additionally, the Chief’s authority to waive the required time in each level and advance an employee would result in a double digit increase (example: Police Officer II six percent increase + Police Officer III six percent increase would result in an immediate 12 percent increase in pay).
"Mr. Joel also said, 'Anyone above the rank of Master Patrolman is not eligible. Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains.' The ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant and Captain are outside of the POCD and were never intended to be included. Those ranks can be achieved by a combination of experience, merit, job performance and availability. The city offers promotional opportunities to the ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain generally every two years. On June 5, 2012, Council approved a proposal (at a cost of $133,828) with Morris and McDaniel to develop and conduct police promotional activities this year. It has always been this administration’s intent that once the POCD was fully funded (FY13 marks the final installment) all future Cost Of Living Adjustments (COLA) would be applied to ALL employees which includes sworn. However, providing the POCD final payment and a COLA would create inequities that would require another anomaly correction and be overwhelmingly unfair to the civilian employees.
"Civilian employees are not offered a career development program and, regardless of motivation or personal responsibility, unable to move up the ranks in the same manner as a sworn employee. Chief Dodd has stated on numerous occasions that the POCD is his priority and it should be funded."
Sgt. Joel had this response on Wednesday night:
"You got me again, Richard. I stated that my salary was static from 2006 to 2010, adjusted once, then has remained static again from 2010 to what will be 2013 at the earliest. I actually made less than I thought in 2006, so you got me: I stand corrected. My salary was the same in 2008, 2009, and 2010, then again from 2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2013.
"What you did not have to correct was the fact that I and a third of our Department still operate with no pay plan, and that a recent promotee last month is making $5,000 a year more on his first day than a sergeant of five years, because your administration never fixed the problem in 2010 that you created in 2008.
"Again. Regarding the officers in their first three years not being able to participate, you are again correct: They receive a mandatory pay bump after their first probationary year. That does not require participation, merely attendance, but your semantics are noted. You then refer to the 'built in pay advances' in the Career Development program…but you fail to mention that you froze the pay that the program was intended to give. Your $1.3 million “pay bump” for this fiscal year is what regular people refer to as a 'balloon payment'. They earned that pay one and nearly two years ago because you simply stopped paying them, like you did the management level of the Department.
"Now you pat yourself on the back for giving them the pay they actually earned in 2010 and 2011 in most cases, and actually call it a 'raise'. To a bank or a business, that would actually be referred to as a “payment due” but without back pay or interest. Ah…then you refer to those above the rank of Master Patrol Officer and all their opportunities, even showing that promotions opportunities are made available 'every two years', then bragging about the June 5th budget allocation for testing. Mr. Beeland, they did that because your office hasn’t allowed us to test for promotions since 2008. That is four years, sir. So long that Officers on that list have died of natural causes and retired, but again, your semantics are appreciated, and the 24 promotions that have been allowed are accepted with sincere gratitude.
"And finally, you reference the possible need for another study, and apparently a multi-million-dollar one since I pointed out that for the last seven years of your administration, there hasn’t been a plan for ranking officers, and only a partially implemented one for your patrolmen and women.
"A 'study'. Sir, the first two years of your bosses term were spent conducting a 'study' that indicated we were horrifically behind in pay, and when you instituted a plan, you did it for two thirds of the Department, then froze its pay. What do you think the result of another “study” would be? The minutes of the Council meetings are recorded and dictated. Study of them will find me praising your offices recent compliance with Council request for choices, as well as funding of the Career Development program after these many years. I merely asked for consideration of a plan for the other third of the Department in the future. Not this year:
"I actually referenced the next administration, and I did not ask for money, much less an increase; I asked for a 'plan'. In response to this, you threaten the current plan for your Officers that have already earned this pay during some of the most dangerous years of work in memory, and you have done a great job of trying to embarrass me personally for having the gall to ask for a plan that is within the boundaries of the Equal Pay Act which your office refuses to do.
"Well done, sir; were this a playground, your boss would be the 'Bully of the Year', and you would be an equally acknowledged sidekick of such. My only point of contention is that I absolutely abhor a 'bully', and this only serves to remind me of why I became a cop. It also explains why you and your administration behave in the manner that you do. Unlike Tuesday evening, I am not speaking on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police and its 300-plus members in the Chattanooga Police Department who need an association to voice their concerns and needs. I am responding as employee number 0043980, the one you attack personally when he questions your policies and lack thereof on behalf of those 300, and the one you seek to embarrass.
"I can take it. But this behavior is just one of the many things that I and several thousand other people will not miss when your term ends. Not everyone likes 'the cops', but no one likes a 'bully'. When your blood cools and if you ever come to your senses, I would still like to get back to business and present our suggestions for a plan."