Radio plan gets ’em where they live

The Columbus, Ohio, Fraternal Order of Police has filed a grievance against a plan to issue new walkie-talkies to officers who live in the city before handing them out to the rest of the force  a move the union says is a clear violation of its labor contract.

Lieut. Mike Tanner, president of the 3,500-member Capitol Lodge No. 9, said the move by embattled Police Chief James G. Jackson is unprecedented, marking the first time residency has been used as a basis for disbursing equipment to officers, and it blatantly violates contract provisions. “I’ve been here 24 years, and never in the history of the Division of Police has equipment been issued based on where you live,” Tanner told Law Enforcement News.

[At press time, Jackson was taking a vacation after he refused to report to duty at the city’s Fire Division, where he had been ordered pending a mayoral investigation into his disciplinary rulings in cases where he may have shown favoritism toward high-ranking police officials. More details will be forthcoming in the Dec. 15 issue of LEN.]

The FOP’s Tanner said that under the terms of the contract, such actions must be first presented to FOP officials for review. “[Chief Jackson] did not bring this issue to the table and discuss it with us. He just brought it to the table at the Office of Labor Relations meeting and announced this was what he was going to do…. Had the Chief came to us in the proper fashion, we could have discussed it and maybe come to a reasonable meeting of the minds.”

The city recently purchased 375 new radios to replace old ones that often had to be shared between two or more officers. After issuing 301 of the walkie-talkies, which officers will be permitted to keep with them at all times, Jackson decided to give the rest to 74 officers who live in the city and have the most seniority. As the city continues to replace old radios, under Jackson’s plan, the units would be given to the more than 500 officers who live in Columbus, and then to those living in Franklin County. Officers who live in surrounding counties will be the last to get the radios.

Deputy Chief John Rockwell told LEN that that all of the city’s 1,646 officers will have new radios within five years. Officers who are issued the walkie-talkies will not be required to listen to them while off duty, but the radios would be available to officers when emergencies arise.

Tanner said Jackson’s move is the latest in a long string of attempts he’s made to dodge provisions of the contract, which has prompted the FOP to file several grievances against the Division of Police. “I have to keep filing grievances to take him to arbitration on past practice issues until the city gets sick and tired of paying these arbitration costs,” he said.


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Published in Law Enforcement News
Nov. 30, 1996.
© 1996, LEN Inc.