After a deadly weekend in New Haven that included several shootings, the Police Union is questioning whether overtime cuts played a part in the response.
While the 26 new police officers sworn in Tuesday night are sure to bolster the force, the Police Union President says it’s not enough, citing the three months until they’ll hit the beat and the retirement of other officers.
He argues that the department is shorthanded, thus requiring the officers they do have to work overtime.
A lot of overtime.
Even though the department budgets for $95,000 in overtime pay per week, police were averaging $130,000 per week in July, prompting Mayor John DeStefano Jr. to meet with police and ask for them to reduce overtime.
However, Union President, Louis Cavaliere Jr, says that will lead to problems on the streets.
“You’re on a hot call… a backup four or five minutes away is unacceptable. You should be there with your partner and that’s how it would be if you had enough officers here. Obviously there isn’t enough”, says Cavaliere.
The weekend saw a murder inside a night club and several other shootings, including one that left another man in critical condition.
“We had a lot of crime being committed and officers running up to us telling us there’s not enough officers here”, says Cavaliere.
Mayor DeStefano says it’s possible to come in at budget and still defend the public, referencing the $130,000 in overtime pay.
“That’s 2930 hours, the rough equivalent of hiring 84 full-time cops per week and like a family budget there’s only so much we’re going to spend. So yeah we’re going to pay close attention to the tax payer’s dollars and to public safety and we can do both”, said DeStefano.
Both sides agree the new officers will eventually strengthen the force, but they remain at odds over the amount of overtime needed to adequately protect New Haven.
“We had two officers in the club where the homicide was, we had another shooting, we had 3 officers on the same block”, said DeStefano.
The Union argues response times are insufficient and denies what critics have suggested.
Berman: “This is a union playing politics. People have said that.”
Cavliere: “Not to me. It’s an officer safety issue. How do we put a price on safety?”