March 15, 2002

Judge Rules City May Give Promotions, Raises to Selected ESU Officers

By SAMUEL MAULL Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK -- The Police Department can promote selected Emergency Service Unit police officers to the rank of "detective specialist" and give them merit raises, a Manhattan judge ruled Friday.

State Supreme Court Justice Lucindo Suarez said the department did not violate prior court orders by promoting and increasing the pay of the ESU's 15 most senior officers as rewards for their heroic work on Sept. 11.

Suarez approved the promotions over the objections of the police union, the 27,000-member Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA), which two years ago got a court order blocking similar promotions of some 2,000 officers.

The union asked Suarez to find the city in contempt and enjoin police officials from going forward with the promotions.

But Suarez said Justice Stanley Parness' March, 22, 2000 order, which affirmed a ruling by the city's Office of Collective Bargaining, barred promotions and raises for "ordinary patrol" officers except through collective bargaining.

Parness' ruling did not bar elevation of officers performing "specialized functions" to the rank of detective specialist without submitting the issue to collective bargaining, Suarez said.

"This court finds that petitioner has failed to establish that respondents are in contempt, or entitled to the injunctive relief," Suarez wrote his four-page decision.

Michael Cardozo, spokesman for the city's Law Department, said the judge's order allows the promotions and raises to take effect immediately.

Joe Mancini, spokesman for the PBA, said union officials "are studying the decision and weighing our options." He would not comment further.

However, Patrick Lynch, the PBA president, has said in the past that all of the police officers deserve raises, not just a few chosen by police brass. He has called the merit pay issue an attempt at "union busting."

During oral arguments before Suarez, lawyers for the city acknowledged that officers who got the rank of "detective specialist" would not perform duties different from other officers in their unit.