Sunday, February 12, 2006

What warning signs are there we are headed towards a Police State?

Well, all one has to do is look at the tactics of the Connecticut State Police.

From the Hartford Courant:

Change Afoot At State Police Front-Line Managers Decide To Unionize
February 12, 2006 By TRACY GORDON FOX, Courant Staff Writer

Connecticut State Police front-line managers have decided to unionize, citing concerns about pay, morale and poor planning within the agency.

After a meeting of the department's 44 captains and lieutenants, the majority last week signed a letter of intent to unionize, sources within their ranks said.

This unprecedented move by the upper ranks is another blow to the state police administration, which has been shaken by recent arrests of troopers and an investigation by New York State Police into the department's internal affairs division.

"A significant portion of the lieutenants and captains, whose ranks make up the core of the department's managerial front line, generally feel that top management does not support them as much as they should," Capt. Scott Martin said in a written statement.

Martin said concerns include lower ranks who are paid more than managers, mandatory compensatory time rather than overtime, a general lack of communication on important issues and unequal treatment of managers.

He complained that micro-management "is rampant throughout the agency."

"Politics and the appointment of unqualified persons to certain positions is a major issue that affects both morale and the forward progress of the agency," Martin said.

Several captains and lieutenants began meeting with Public Safety Commissioner Leonard C. Boyle several months ago, but said they decided to proceed with plans to form the union after they saw no progress in having their concerns addressed.

The decision to form a union follows questions raised by Lt. Gov. Kevin B. Sullivan about the department's management and long-term planning.

Sullivan said last week, "There is a lack of confidence in the management capacity of the department," and there has to be an outside evaluation of the department.

Boyle said captains and lieutenants are within their legal rights to form a union, and that he met with state officials about some of their concerns.

Boyle said he and Col. Edward Lynch, commander of the state police, met with lieutenants and captains on several occasions and had expressed their pay concerns to the state Office of Policy and Management.

"OPM has determined that because management pay compression is an issue that affects all state agencies, it will not address the issue on an agency-by-agency basis," Boyle said in a statement.

"This is not a matter that any individual commissioner can independently rectify."

Regarding claims of micro-management, Boyle said supervisors have been "given unprecedented administrative and operational autonomy."

"Our first obligation is the public's safety, not our own job satisfaction," Boyle said.

He pointed to the fact that several important cases have been solved this year and there was a 9 percent decline last year in the number of fatal accidents on state police-patrolled roads as evidence that the administration's priorities are in the right place.

"If someone wants to call that `micro-management,' so be it," Boyle said.

"I call it sound management that is accomplishing our mission: protecting the people of the state." Currently, the state police union represents troopers, sergeants and master sergeants.

The new bargaining unit would probably fall under the Connecticut State Employees Association union.

Several years ago, lieutenants in the Department of Correction were successful in forming a union.

State Police Union President David LeBlanc said he is not surprised the managers decided to unionize "because there is a lot of hopelessness out there.

"What it says to me is that finally the front-line managers, the captains and lieutenants, are seeing the frustration we have seen for years," LeBlanc said.

"There is a lot of frustration out there and I hear it every single day."

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* * * *

My letter to Connecticut State Police Commissioner Leonard C. Boyle

A previous and more sarcastic letter to the same Commissioner

Text of my fax to US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York found here on

My Fax to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumnethal

Anatomy of the Good Ole Boy Network

Testing the First Amendment in the US is Dangerous

* * * *

added 8:20 AM Feb. 14, 2006, my letter to the editor printed in the Hartford Courant:

State Police

Get Low Marks

This is in response to the news story "Change Afoot At State Police" [Feb. 12, Connecticut section]: There have been many stories in The Courant regarding questionable police practices, and individual stories where troopers take the life of a loved one and themselves, run from other police when driving drunk, changed the results of a state police investigation based on pressure of the powerful, etc.

Connecticut state police officers also get low marks for being rude on the phone and disrespectful in person. If New York authorities have tobe the ones to straighten out the Connecticut State Police internal affairs, it is a plague of shame.

Steven G. Erickson


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