From: Don Campbell, President Unified Police Federation
February 1st, 2013
With the end of the first week of the Utah Legislative session, I wanted to update you on what is happening up there for us with legislation involving wages, benefits, and working conditions.
First, we have been working with representatives on introducing changes. One involves “lane change”, which is the idea of an officer retiring but able to be considered for another state job.
As you know, we can no longer “double-dip” and have a second career as a police officer in an agency covered by state retirement. Lane change is the idea of allowing us to work as teachers, coaches, school administration etc.
Not only is this an honorable ambition to consider on a career change; in light of tragedies such as the Connecticut school shootings, it makes sense to have trained experienced retired officers on campus. We hope this will be expanded to include honorable second careers such as Fire.
Also in the works is reintroducing medical retirement for officers in Utah. This went away many years ago. But many of us continue to believe that we would have a medical retirement if disabled in the line of duty. Sadly not the case. A lot of considerations in making this happen. The fiscal chunk of funding is one area. One idea that makes sense is a small fee (like cents not dollars) out of something like our auto insurance to pay for it. Fire does something similar with money from homeowners insurance.
We started these initiatives in the last legislative session; I am sorry I can’t forecast results or timing on this. We have worked to develop support and are hopeful.
Senate bill 130 is up on the hill. It was being closely watched for by police Labor and other Labor organizations we work with. The concern is whether the results of this would limit or even eliminate police secondary employment. I have attached the first draft of this bill to this communication. One concern to us were lines 63-65. The language change seemed as though it could eliminate police training and experience from a consideration for allowing the work. We also have concern how that would affect officers setting up small contract work or existing contract police secondary employment. Another concern was whether a change in the regulating board moving away from law enforcement participation would allow private security to control and limit police part-time work. It looks like this change will not happen now. Good news.
I think the actions in lobbying and working with folks on the hill will mean NO CHANGE to your ability to be able to work secondary jobs. It’s a huge issue for us. For many of us a limitation would be a make or break situation in taking care of our families. Our cooperation with police Labor and all other Labor organizations is key to tracking and dealing with this concerning legislation.
This bill should concern us as it had a broad “any use” language on making state enquiries. It was amended to specify more directly if used improperly for “personal or financial gain”. I am sure I don’t need to warn you again that running information for your personal use on the state computer is a bad idea. But we all may see a car in the area of our home that is suspicious and makes our cop spidey senses trip.
This is a bill that introduces a new level of review to POST decisions. We do not know who was involved in pitching this idea. There is already an appeal process in statute. I don’t see how we could have a problem with additional appeal opportunity though.
There is another bill up there that would allow public access at Gun Ranges. It would allow ranges to charge fees to the public coming to use it. But there are huge problems with this legislation in terms of our safety and security issues for our Range. Our undercover officers and SWAT do not need to worry about the public being up there looking at them, our vehicles, and our tactics & methods being trained. It would put a stretch on our already taxed resources in terms of supervision of the range. We don’t need those distractions. This is a bad idea. It was put off this week but we will follow it closely.
So a lot of things going on, but as of right now we are not being hit (so far) with the really horrible things that arrive at the legislature as has been going on in the last sessions.
My thanks and appreciation to Mike Lee and his involvement with this session. Mike is currently VP of this states AFL-CIO and aids in our political efforts as well.
We work through the year in developing support and communication with other Labor as well as law-makers. I think that respectful process will pay off for us in many ways.
This effort is sometimes not that visible to many of our members, but I hope it points out part of the value in your being a part of our Labor outfit. And we appreciate your membership and don’t take it for granted.