Scranton police file grievance after chief makes off-duty arrest
In Scranton, New Jersey, the Scranton police union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the city for an off-duty drug arrest made by Police Chief Dan Duffy in March. The complaint, which was filed with the state Labor Relations Board on April 14, takes issue with the chief arresting a man who was allegedly in possession of marijuana because the chief is not a member of the collective bargaining unit and was “off duty” when the March 20 arrest was made.
The complaint states that “the work of apprehending and arresting individuals has been the sole and exclusive province of members of the bargaining unit,” and that the city did not inform or negotiate with the union that the chief would be “performing bargaining unit work.” Because of this, the union says the city violated the state Labor Relations Act and the Policemen and Firemen Collective Bargaining Act.
“We’re not out to bust his chops,” Sgt. Bob Martin, police union president, said. “It’s not against the chief. The action is against the city.”
While driving through the area, he arrested a man who had an outstanding bench warrant issued by Lackawanna County Court. The chief also searched the man and allegedly found he possessed a marijuana joint and drug paraphernalia, leading to the man’s arrest on drug charges.
Sgt. Martin acknowledged that the chief is “morally and legally obligated” to act if he sees a crime happen and to make an arrest if necessary.
But, the union president said the chief, as member of management, should not actively root out crime or randomly patrol neighborhoods while off duty because it violates union agreements that protect rank-and-file officers’ employment. The union is concerned city administrators will have more leverage to lay off police officers because “Chief Duffy will step in” and do the work, Sgt. Martin said.
Good for Chief Duffy – he understands his role. And the union should be ashamed for their actions. Once again they show us it’s not about “public service” yet rather protecting their union jobs.