This latest Blog entry concerns legislation Massachusetts Governor Deval Patricks latest move. For those of you not from Massachusetts you may find this interesting reading.
In Massachusetts Police are assigned constructions details rather than having flag men (Woman) as in other states. My friends who are not from Massachusetts have always told me what a complete waste of tax payer money. I tended to agree with them, until I thought it through.
So after I include some articles from the Boston Globe (www.Boston.com), I will give the facts as I know them and my intial thoughts as to why I think this is a mistatke. Why I think Massachusetts policy of using Police officers at constructions sites is an excellent use of taxpayers money.
Here is an article from the Boston Globe …..
Patrick to set new curbs on police details
Policy, to be released today, targets construction zones
August 13, 2008
Governor Deval Patrick is planning
to release new regulations this morning that will take on powerful
police unions by limiting construction details on nearly all
state-owned roads, say several people who were briefed on the
the plan will not force municipalities to adopt the regulations, it is
the most aggressive step yet to end a cash cow for police officers that
critics have long called a waste of taxpayer dollars.
crack in the dam now," said David Tuerck, who is director of the Beacon
Hill Institute and has criticized Patrick for not going far enough to
crack down on police details. "The governor has shown a great deal of
political courage in taking this step."
The final regulations
will be released today by Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen. A
public hearing will be held, but the regulations are not expected to
change much before they are fully implemented in October.
regulations will require any contractor hired by the state for road
work to develop a construction zone safety plan, said the people who
were briefed on the administration's plan. They did not want to be
named before the initiative is unveiled today.
That plan, which
will be developed by the Massachusetts Highway Department, will
delineate when police details should be used and when civilians in
bright vests with flags will suffice.
Police unions are expected
to vigorously oppose the regulations, although several union leaders
would not comment yesterday because they had not seen the final draft
of the regulations.
"On our roadways, public safety has to be the
number one issue," said Rick Brown, president of the State Police
Association of Massachusetts. "Putting flaggers out on state highways
is going to cause someone to get hurt, whether it's the flaggers or
drivers on those roadways."
The new regulations will probably
require civilian flaggers on state roads where the speed limit is below
45 miles per hour, as well as on low-traffic roads where the speed
limit is higher. Flaggers will also be used on sites where barriers are
used to block off construction sites on a high-speed, high-traffic road.
roads - generally those with speed limits above 45 miles per hour and
with more than 4,000 vehicles per day - will still rely on sworn police
officers to monitor traffic.
It means that flaggers would
probably be placed on a construction site on Route 2 in Charlemont,
where traffic is light, but a police officer would be used on Route 2
in Concord, where traffic is much heavier. Flaggers would be possible,
though less likely, on the major interstates.
Although there are
no statewide regulations currently requiring the use of police details
for Massachusetts road projects or utility jobs, state and local
officials have used them for decades at construction sites anyway, in
deference to politically powerful unions. Massachusetts is the only
state that automatically assigns police officers to nearly all utility
and road work sites
Police have argued that
the presence of a cruiser and a uniformed officer slows traffic and
provides the best protection for the public and for road workers.
Police have at times also made arrests or caught suspects on unrelated
cases while on police details.
however, have railed against the frequent sight of police officers
drinking coffee or talking on cellphones as they oversee construction
sites. The details also add tens of thousands to police officers'
salaries. In 2006, nearly 1 in 10 State Police officers made more than
the governor, in part because of overtime and state police work. Sixty
officers made more than $40,000 working details.
Governor William F. Weld proposed legislation to replace police details
with civilian flaggers. After 800 police officers flooded the State
House and accused him of taking food from the mouths of their children,
Weld gave up, and few have tried to revive the issue.
changed in March, when Patrick joined House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi
and Senate President Therese Murray to say they would work to eliminate
the closely guarded union perk.
After a lobbying blitz by the
unions and some signals from the governor that change would be
difficult, the Legislature inserted language into the bill essentially
preventing the state from forcing changes on local roads, where the
vast majority of projects are done.
Administration officials have
said they hope that their new policy will set an example for
municipalities, but there's nothing to compel local officials to
challenge police unions and make changes on their roads.
wouldn't say it's a disappointment, but anyone who looks at this with a
straight face would have to say we're not going to see much change,"
said Jim Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute, a
fiscally conservative think tank.
Of the nearly 36,000 miles of
roads in Massachusetts, about 90 percent was under local control in
2006, according to data collected by the Federal Highway Administration.
officials say the new policy will save money, but have not put forward
any estimate, according to the people briefed on the plan.
cost of paying police for monitoring constructions sites and traffic on
Massachusetts Highway Department projects increased from $15.5 million
in 2003 to $22.6 million in 2006, a 48 percent increase over the three
years, according to a report last year by the Transportation Finance
Commission. Nearly 5 percent of the total cost of MassHighway's
construction projects pays for police details.
Senator Steven A.
Baddour, a Methuen Democrat and cochairman of the Joint Committee on
Transportation, praised the regulations yesterday.
"This is the first step," he said. "We'll continue to look into modifying things as we go forward."
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach the original article ....
Boston Globe Article
Here is another article, I have also included from the Boston Globe...
Police protection needed from aggressive drivers
I'M GLAD everyone thinks saving money on police
details at road construction sites is so wonderful. What I think is
wonderful is my husband walking through the door every night safe and
sound. He's a line-striper and spends every day standing, walking,
running, measuring, and setting up and breaking down equipment in
highway traffic. He's been hit by vehicles three times in 13 years. He
credits his police and trooper details with saving himself and his crew
the reason we need these details is that the drivers in this state are
among the most impatient and aggressive in the nation. The swearing and
threats alone from drivers warrants police protection. I challenge
anyone to stand for a day and watch what goes on at these sites. You
would be horrified.
To read the original Article...
Boston Globe Article
Here are my quick thoughts on this……
We live in a very expensive state. As expensive as it is, I would not want to live anywhere else. Massachusetts is a wonderful place to live, great restaurants, Museums, colleges, so many cultures. The Mountains, The Ocean and so on.
If you take Police Details out of the equation the average salary of a police officer is effected quite a bit. In my town, it would be 42K dollars a year. What Police officer could afford to live here. What is now considered a good job, would be very quickly change. The average police officer in this state, is smart and well educated. These are good jobs and good people go after them. Its scary who would want the job, it it did not pay well. Think about who would be protecting us. So as a flood of young Police officers left, it would very quickly send a message to all of us we need to pay them more. So the next article we would see in the Boston Globe would be the rising costs of Police Salary in the Bay State. We would have no choice but to raise Police Salaries.
Police officers need to make additional money to survive. They know if they write lots of tickets. That when people dispute those tickets, they get to go to court to defend the Ticket they wrote. That is usually over-time unless you want to pull them off the streets. So instead of getting a warning, you will get a ticket. I wonder if that is not why Police are so aggressive in states like Connecticut. God think of the costly insurance surcharges.
The construction company hires an outside service to handle filling out the proper forms so they don’t need Police Details. This third part of course has to put there overhead charge on the situation. So it cost us the same anyway. The only difference is now our average police officer cant afford to live in this state.
Then I think about the typical Massachusetts driver. Lets face it we are aggressive. Imagine how we will be with a Flag Man (Woman). I think this is a place where the Governor Deval Patrick needs to back off. Give it a break. I think in Massachusetts we have it right. Pay the Police to do the construction details we are all better off.
My gut tells me this is not good public policy for Massachusetts.
Just my opinion.
Posted by Michael Corey