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November 25, 2013

 

SUNY police reap pay windfall

Some officers among college’s highest paid with $830K in back pay

PoliceJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Lt. Chauncey Bennett gets ready to head out on a call Saturday with the SUNY Cortland Police Department.

By MATT LEADER
Staff Reporter
mleader@cortlandstandardnews.net

SUNY Cortland dished out over $830,000 for over six years of retroactive pay increases to officers of its University Police Department in 2012.
That averages about $46,000 for each of the department’s 19 officers, lieutenants and command staff, though not all received extra pay. The retroactive pay placed six of the department’s officers among the top 11 highest paid employees at the college for 2012.
Police Chief Steven Dangler said the reason for the substantial increase was years of back pay due to SUNY police officers not having an official contract with the state.
“It had been earned and it was finally awarded,” Dangler said of the extra pay. “It’s a statistical anomaly. It’s certainly not something you would see every year.”
Officers did not have a contract for a little over six years, from 2005 to 2011, said Paul Larrabee, a spokesman for the Police Benevolent Association of New York State which now represents SUNY University Police officers and lieutenants.
Established in 2011, the PBA currently represents about 1,200 members of the New York State Agency Police Services Unit, which in addition to SUNY University Police officers also represents state environmental conservation police, state park police and forest rangers.
According to Larrabee, the failure of UPD officers’ old union, Council 82, to secure a new contract with the state was a chief reason for the departure of SUNY UPD officers in the summer of 2011. By February of 2012, said Larrabee, the PBA of NYS had secured a new contract with the Cuomo administration which resulted in the retroactive pay increases.
UPD officers and lieutenants are both represented by the PBA of NYS, but the terms of their contracts differ.
Broken up over the more than six years that University Police Department’s officers lacked a contract, the $830,000 comes to about $7,200 per officer per year. Not all of the officers currently employed by the UPD were employed in 2005.
Chief Dangler said that many duties could result in overtime pay, including court appearances, student conduct appointments and working security for sporting events. Cortland’s University Police Department also works security for Jets’ training camp every summer which, Dangler said, involves every officer and can result in extra shifts.
“We try to cut down as much as possible,” Dangler said of scheduling extra shifts for sporting events. “But sometimes it’s not possible.”
In 2010 and 2011, UPD officers earned an average of about $8,900 and $8,500 in pay in addition to their base salaries.
These additional payments, said Larrabee, were provided for under officer’s old contracts negotiated under Council 82 leadership.
Dangler said there are no plans to hire additional officers.

 

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