Council approves changes to police hiring practices

Council approves changes to police hiring practices

LINCOLN – Town Council members say they're hoping to attract more candidates to the Lincoln Police Department through a series of ordinance updates approved on Tuesday.

One change would make it easier for police officers serving in other departments to transfer to Lincoln without having to attend the police academy again.

Police Chief Brian Sullivan has been working on the “lateral transfer” policy with Town Solicitor Tony DeSisto.

Sullivan said the Police Department has had three retirements in the last month: Capt. Joseph Conti, Det. Lieutenant Dana Packer, and Patrolman Steven Tellier, and he said the department is facing the potential for three more retirements by the end of the year.

“In the past, if anyone from another agency was looking to come to Lincoln for more pay, more responsibility, or any other reason, they’d have to go through the same process as someone trying out for the first time,” he said. That includes written and physical exams.

“It’s always a long journey,” he said. “For someone from another agency already involved in police work, we want to treat them a little bit differently.”

He said lateral transfer prospects would still go through a rigorous interview process, background and work history checks and a probationary period, but the overall on-boarding process would be a bit shorter for veteran officers.

Lateral transfers would not have to attend the police academy, which is currently 20 weeks long with an additional 16 weeks of field training, said Sullivan. The academy runs twice annually.

With the number of people retiring from the Police Department, he said, it could take several years to fill all vacancies.

“Being able to have access to officers who have retired from other agencies or are coming from other agencies certainly would help out in this degree,” he said.

Councilor Bruce Ogni said his main concern is hiring older officers who are “burned out” and may not be as proactive on the force.

Sullivan said the review process would be very thorough, including conversations with the chief of the department the officer comes from and interviews with colleagues.

Ogni asked whether it would be revealed whether an officer was “Giglio,” a term used for officers who have sustained incidents of untruthfulness, criminal convictions or other issues of credibility. The chief said that information would be in their personnel file.

Ogni also asked whether changing the residency requirement for officers has helped diversify the department. Sullivan said it's helped to a degree, but that the recent change lowering required test scores from 80 to 70 was likely to have a greater impact.

“The last time we did recruitment, we had 15 candidates that did not meet that 80 point threshold,” he said, adding that the changes “level the playing field.”

In addition to allowing for lateral transfers to the Police Department, the council agreed to make similar changes to the Rescue Department’s testing requirements. They also voted to change the title of the rescue director to rescue chief.

In other police personnel news, Councilor T.J. Russo shared a communication with the council on Tuesday suggesting Lincoln’s next town administrator “look into the pros and cons of moving to a 12-hour shift” at the Police Department.

He said other communities have moved to this type of scheduling, and that it may benefit the town “by doubling the amount of personnel we have on the road.”

“If we increase ‘manpower’ we should be able to devote more officers to traffic safety,” he said. “This would also alleviate the public safety issue highlighted by the Lincoln Police Officers Union. While I cannot say that I would advocate for this switch, I think the benefits and financial impact should be explored.”

Comments

I believe the Lincoln Police department had its Pension Eligibility reduced to 20 years under former administrator Jon Oster as a favor for the unions support.

Now we are facing 6 officers retiring and one running for Town Administrator all in one year.

Lincoln is facing a CRISIS as police become vested in their pensions after 20 years on the force, then they move on to other opportunities, like Mr Gould is, to start earning another town pension if he wins.

Can anyone tell me who is eligible for a pension in the private sector after a measly 20 years???

If "Captain" Gould wins the Town Administrator race, how on Earth does anyone expect him to negotiate in good faith with the police union to, among other things, renegotiate the pension scandal on behalf of the Lincoln taxpayers? Obviously he is COMPROMISED!

We should at least be returning eligibility for pensions back to 25 years for newly hired officers, and that is still a great deal for them!

Don't expect Phil Gould to fight this fight.

Yet another reason why Lincoln taxpayers need to come to their senses and understand why we shouldn't elect insiders.

If we do, things won't ever change and the Lincoln police department will continue to have shortages well into the future and taxpayers will continue to be taken for a ride.

Enough is enough!

It is sad that a little google search can prove mr laheys comment to not be accurate. Currently the contract for lincoln police shows that officers must work 25 years to get a full pension, not the 20 years he discussed. He also mentions how captain gould would receive two pensions if he got the town administrator job, also untrue. A town employee can not collect their pension from one department and also from another at the same time while they are working. The repeated comments by mr lahey that are trying to put captain gould down are not necessary regardless of who you support/vote for. Also did we forget that our last town administrator almond was also a former lincoln police officer mr lahey? He was able to negotiate with the union and i never saw them get any wild contracts under his administration.

I believe that Mr Almond is working on his 4th pension now.

I never claimed anyone could collect while working.

Mr Gould is the only public employee running, so naturally he would be the topic of uncomfortable pension discussions.

BRAVO.................

Mr. Layhe, any comments.................

It appears that the 6 police officers retiring are 100% vested in their pensions based on the pre-2013 contract which only requires 10 or 20 years of service depending upon their age.

Add one more if Gould were to win the election, for a total of 7 leaving the force.

The 20 year figure changed to 25 years apparently through an initiative by then Secretary of the Treasury Ramondo in 2013.

The big news, however, is that the Lincoln Police contract expired on June 30, 2021. It apparently hasn't yet been renegotiated due to the fact that Police Chief Sullivan is interim Town Administrator.

If it is a conflict for Chief Sullivan, why wouldn't we consider it a conflict for Captain Gould?

Will Gould's first act as Police Captain turned Town Administrator be to renegotiate the terms of the contract with the police union he just left?

That is concerning if not alarming.

Thanks go out to the Valley Breeze for providing this forum to discuss ISSUES facing our town and how they relate to the Town Administrator race.

From one week to the next we read stories about the failures of our elected and appointed officials.

From the school reconstruction fiasco, to the 100 people at the Financial Town Meeting approving a $91 million budget, to the Town Council paying a no bid contract for a coucilor's sister.

It was only weeks ago that Administrator Almond hightailed it out of here for $60,000 more than his Administrator job, for a made to order job at the governor's office; with the added gem of increasing his pension immensely even if he were to only work 1 year there.

What a racket!

Now we are facing the possibility of electing the Captain of the police force to renegotiate with the union boys he just left, and with the school union where his wife is employed! Talk about conflicts! Our town has been one conflict after another!

For as long as we continue to elect the insiders, these scams will continue. No wonder Mr Gould isn't running on issues. He'd apparently rather not talk about it. Nothing to see here.

I was wrong about Almond. He personally opted out of the state pension system and chose a 401k. That is what set him apart from the others. He didn't have to do that based upon the rules that currently exist and could have cashed in like so many others and I wrongfully assumed he did just that. My apologies to him. It isn't often we get a stand up person who opts for less.

That aside, I am not so confident that Mr Gould can set aside his union ties and negotiate in good faith if he were to win. Time will tell.

I think we have heard enough of mr leahys bashing of captain gould. Every week he finds a way to comment on some article bashing captain gould even when they have no direct relation. It gets old. Support your candidate and vote how you want but the relentless negative comments are just not necessary no matter who you support in the election.

Mr. Leahy, at what point are you accountable for spewing false and inaccurate information about a candidate for Town Administrator? Philip Gould has dedicated 29 years of service to our town but because he happens to be in a union he intends to fleece the town? You do realize that all police officers serve in unions, and by the way most of our residents consider law enforcement a noble and honorable profession. You even have the audacity to imply that because his wife is a school teacher here in town he is even more of a financial danger to our town? Anyone who knows the Goulds, know that we are extremely fortunate to have them as part of our community.

Instead of thanking them for their commitment to our community you would imply that Phil will create financial ruin for our town. Let’s get the facts straight. The police are in a private pension, so Gina Raimondo had absolutely nothing to do with their contract. The extension to a required 25 years of service was negotiated with Mr. Almond. Most officers under the current contract are eligible for 50 percent of their base salary after 25 years of service and 60 percent after 30 years. There are a handful of members that were grandfathered under the previous agreement which was 50 percent at 20 years and 60 percent after 25 years.

Captain Gould is one of the members who was eligible to retire with the 60 percent at 25 years. Guess what? He didn’t retire. Instead, he continued to work for the town that he loves. He could have packed it in and collected his pension and sat home, played golf, or gone to work somewhere else. For all intents and purposes, he has been working for 40 cents on the dollar.

Thankfully for the residents of Lincoln he stayed. He managed to get the police department accredited which lowered the departments insurance deductible from $50,000 to $2,000 for any serious claims. He also secured grants to conduct mandatory in-service training which would have otherwise been paid for by the town. Most recently he was the one who pushed for the ordinance for lateral transfers. This process can help fill some of the department’s vacancies in a timely manner offsetting potential overtime expenses that would be created by filling shift shortages. This initiative potentially can also save the town tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, in OPEB benefits, while also strengthening the department’s pension system.

It seems to me, and anyone who cares to know the facts, that Philip Gould is all about fiscal responsibility. To imply that because he is a police officer, and in a union, that he is a financial risk to this town is completely unfair and discourteous.

I respect our officers and appreciate that they are willing to risk their lives so that my friends and family are safe.
Sean Gaughan