BH cops chief: Cuts won't hurt public
Police union officials say they are skeptical, will file labor charge
By Julie Swidwa-H-P, Saturday, September 18, 2010
BENTON HARBOR - Police Chief Roger Lange said public safety will not be compromised with the loss of nine full-time patrol officers.
But a labor representative for the police officers' union and the local union president said they're not so sure. The Benton Harbor Police Officers Association is preparing to file an unfair labor practice charge against the city, union President James Wilkins said Friday after a news conference.
The layoffs leave the city with 11 full-time patrol officers, Lange said.
Union representatives held an impromptu conference of their own outside City Hall.
Mike Woronko, a Police Officers Labor Council representative from Rockford, Mich., said the conference inside reminded him of "a scene from 'Animal House'" in which "one minute the guy says 'Don't panic,' and the next minute they're all trampled."
"I don't quite believe everything I heard in there," Woronko said.
Woronko said he also wonders why a donation from Whirlpool can't be used to retain full-time officers.
"Whirlpool is a private company, and they can give money to anyone to use in any form they want to, but it seems odd they'd give money to an outside agency so they can send people here on overtime instead of sending it right to Benton Harbor and we could keep people on straight time..." jswidwa@TheH-P.com
Paul wrote on Sep 18, 2010 2:51 PM:
" If laying off officers will not affect public safety, then why were they on the force in the first place? The chief's statement was unwise. "
concerned wrote on Sep 18, 2010 5:15 PM:
" How pathetic are those that believe that the loss of 9 full time officers won't hurt. How pathetic it still is that the city pays HUGE $$$ for outsiders to come in and cut the force so they could get their salary paid..."
Facts wrote on Sep 19, 2010 10:38 AM:
" The fact is that Whirpool donated money to help law enforcement in Benton Harbor. The problem is they donated it to another agency to patrol the city, while cops in Benton Harbor are losing their jobs and will now be forced into part time positions with no benefits... Instead of paying BH cops at straight pay, they will be paying higher paid Berrien County officers at overtime pay. "
resident wrote on Sep 19, 2010 3:32 PM:
" It is a fair question since Benton Harbor does not handle it's own finances- why wouldn't Whirlpool donate the money to keep these officers employed? Could it be that Whirlpool just wants their own town with their own police so why should they support the community they used until they got all the waterfront and now aid in disbanding it.
Granholm did an incredible job with her task force to revitalize Benton Harbor. She has done nothing but help it be wiped out. This is just the final blow to get rid of Benton Harbor and Harbor Shores will take it's place. Wake up people - it is so obvoius. "
Mike Woronko wrote on Sep 19, 2010 9:08 PM:
" I'm not blaming Whirlpool for anything. But apparently some readers can't do simple math. You can make money go further on straight time than on overtime. That is the point. If you are concerned about getting the most bang for your buck, you don't pay some one else more to do the same job. "
what a mess wrote on Sep 20, 2010 9:05 PM:
" Just a little information...there are no benefits-the officers are losing those, the part time is not guaranteed, and in truth because the department is offering this part-time crap it will mess up the officer's unemployment. "