The Chief
December 14, 2007

Bratton: Cops Merit Best Pay

Says Other Jobs Don't Compare

By REUVEN BLAU

William J. Bratton, former NYPD Commissioner and current Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, stepped out in favor of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association in its ongoing contract dispute with the Bloomberg administration, slamming New York City's reliance on pattern bargaining.

WILLIAM J. BRATTON: Cops shortchanged.
WILLIAM J. BRATTON: Cops shortchanged.

While he argued that city police officers should be paid more than all other uniformed officers before the PBA arbitration panel, he also acknowledged last week that wasn't his position when he was Police Commissioner from 1994 to April 1996.

Expected a Shift

"I supported Mayor Giuliani's position to resist [the PBA's demands], but that was with the expectation that when the city's financial status was better, they'd be compensated," he said during a Dec. 6 phone interview.

Chief Bratton argued that Police Officers should earn more than all the city's other uniformed groups, including Firefighters, Correction Officers, and Sanitation Workers.

"New York City has to be the only city in America where Sanitation Workers are compared to Police Officers," he remarked. "They're totally different lines of work."

JAMES F. HANLEY: Bratton flip-flops.
JAMES F. HANLEY: Bratton flip-flops.

Labor Commissioner James F. Hanley questioned Mr. Bratton's changed position on pattern bargaining and other contract issues, including whether to allow the PBA to have its contract dispute heard before the state's Public Employment Relations Board.

Feels Strongly Both Ways

"He was very much opposed to PERB and then he became in favor of PERB; he was in favor of pattern bargaining and now he's opposed; he had been very much opposed to the merger [of the Transit Police] and then he became very much in favor of the merger, so obviously he's a man of strong conviction," Mr. Hanley said indignantly.

Mr. Bratton last week said that during his tenure police officers made sacrifices concerning sick-leave policies but were never fairly compensated.

"The unions had worked with us in improving sick time and injured-on-duty numbers to the extent that we returned to work over 1,000 officers," he said. "It wasn't just a matter of driving down the crime numbers; they were working well with us, and that was reflected through their attendance."

'Can't Compare Them'

But promises to reward them later never became reality, he said. "When that did not happen, I felt very comfortable supporting the union and having it recommend that police work is a different line of work than firefighters and certainly that of Correction Officers and Sanitation Workers. To compare them makes no sense at all."

During Mr. Bratton's tenure at the NYPD, the department increased the hiring age to 22 - it has since been lowered to 21 - and also raised the college credit requirement for new recruits from 16 to 60. Those added requirements were in response to recommendations made by the Mollen Commission, which investigated allegations of corruption within the department, Mr. Bratton said.

At that time, the NYPD also increased its standards at the Police Academy, raising passing grades up to 70, excluding "soft 70s" such as 69.3 or 69.4.

At the time, Mr. Bratton recalled, none of the city's other uniformed departments had a similar "stringent" education requirement. "And none of those departments have such personal and professional liability," he argued. "The dangers that they face far exceeds [those for] firefighters and correction officers."