Response to Mayor Figg’s editorial on POA audit of Port Hueneme

By William Stevenson

 

Mayor Figg,

As a Police Officer for the Port Hueneme Police Department, I feel the utmost need to pen this response to your opinion letter.

You state your interest is to retain our home town police department but are you familiar with the trouble we had keeping this home town police department great? The Port Hueneme Police Dept (PHPD) is a sum of its parts, and our members are some of the highest quality, most well-rounded police employees in the county, if not the state.

PHPD requires more of its employees due to its small size. Employees are exposed to many job duties and are part and parcel to decision-making that is above their pay grade at larger departments. At a larger department, line level officers are like worker bees. They have a significantly reduced scope of duties and must promote or be assigned rare and much sought after specialty assignments to be exposed to the same duties as our line level employees. This exposure makes our employees shoo-in candidates at larger agencies. Why would our employees look to other agencies? Larger agencies offer more opportunity for promotion, better collateral duties such as specialized investigative positions, motor officer positions, air unit (helicopter) positions, horseback patrol positions and much more. PHPD, because of its size, offers a chance at detectives and one K9 position. Officers must work patrol for the majority of their 30-35 year career.

In the past, after a few years of service, our quality officers were taking better paying jobs at larger agencies. PHPD was essentially a training ground, a stepping stone. Our mutually agreed conclusion with the city to stop this problem was to offer an outstanding pay and benefits package. Not only did it succeed in retaining employees, but it brought to us other highly-trained officers from larger agencies. In short, we were the place to be and we could hand pick candidates who would share our passion for our community.

I was one of the first to come from a large agency, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, approximately 14 years ago. I was initially attracted by the pay increase. I went on several ride-a-longs to ensure I was making the right decision.  What unquestionably made up my mind was when I saw the love this department had for its community and the community which returned that love to its police department. This was not another police “job”. The PHPD was more an extended family of its community.

In the past, our former employees have gone on to become great assets and strong leaders for other agencies and in the last few years, this trend is beginning to rear its ugly head again. As of this moment there are two more employees in backgrounds with other agencies, and your other officers are watching closely.

The loss of a quality employee is significant, and I don’t believe you fully understand the cost. The simple way to look at it is the true dollar amount, which includes the cost of hiring a new officer, the overtime incurred backfilling a vacant position, and the cost of training an additional employee to cover the former officer’s specialty training i.e. interview classes, instructor school’s etc.

But the demoralization factor of watching fellow employees leave and succeed greatly somewhere else is difficult if not impossible to comprehend. The realization that your work will be better rewarded and more appreciated elsewhere makes it difficult for employees to want to continue their career at our small hometown police department and continue to defend this wonderful community with our blood, sweat, and tears.

The cost of retaining these employees is not nearly as great as the cost of losing them. The Social Security/Medicare issue, for example, will cost the city $175,000 a year. While that seems like a very large number to the layman’s budget, to a city it is relatively minor. We as a police association voluntarily gave that amount back to the city as a concession nearly two years ago to help the city out. Our frustration, however, is a direct result of seeing the management unit of the city benefit from significant pay increases. The deputy city manager, for example, has received over $50,000 in increased benefits in the last 5 years per Transparent California. Our concessions were quite literally eaten by management which took it.

That being said, what we are asking for is not unfair. It is not exorbitant. We wish to retain our quality employees, stop the impending drain, and to continue to serve the community we love and care for.

Respectfully,

William Stevenson

Police Officer

Port Hueneme Police Department.

In response to:

OPINION on Port Hueneme POA’s financial audit of the City

OPINION on Port Hueneme POA’s financial audit of the City

By Tom Figg, June 8, 2017 . On Tuesday May 23rd, the Port Hueneme Police Officers Association (“POA”) conducted a public meeting to inform residents and other city employees of Port Hueneme’s “true financial status.” I attended the event as an interested 40-year resident and long-time supporter of the Police Department. I’m also the Mayor […]

William Stevenson is a Police Officer in the Port Hueneme Police Department. 


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One Response to Response to Mayor Figg’s editorial on POA audit of Port Hueneme

  1. Mark Savalla June 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Both sides have valid points. It will take a lot of maturity and some compromise to meet the middle ground.

    Reply

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