Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Flaggers-Menino opposes, I am for them

Today the Globe has an article about how Menino is opposing the law that allows construction projects to use civilian flaggers.

I oppose this and have put out a press release outlining the reasons why. Just yesterday I was riding my bicycle up Northampton Street. There was a flagger there who had no shirt on and just an orange vest. I asked "are you a policeman?" and he said directly "yes I am!". As I rode up Northampton Street which was blocked off at both Albany and Washington, there were two police officers standing against the fence in the shade on the sidewalk.

This is not efficient use of the police time, and the money that the City is paying these guys (the contractor was repaving the City street-a City expense, paid for with our taxes) with our money. I look at this as two guys for at least 4 hours which is more than $400, which is one more computer in our schools, or uniforms for an entire high school track team. Everything adds up.

My press release:

***Focusing Police Expertise on Fighting Crime***

According to the FBI, the rate of violent crime in Boston is twice the rate of violent crime in NYC, and the rate of violence against women in Boston is four times the rate in NYC. The number of shootings in Boston through June is above the levels of last year, despite the wet weather. The rate at which we are solving crimes, such as murder, in Boston is not acceptable. The Boston Phoenix concluded “Simply put, the BPD’s homicide unit has the worst track record of any big city police department in the country.”

We understand in America that police work is a dangerous, stressful, professional job that requires qualified, committed individuals who are willing to stand on the front lines in protecting citizens. Each applicant to the Police Academy spends six months of intensive training learning how to serve and protect, becoming the finest public safety officers we can produce.

While the City of Boston ordinances require 2,500 police officers to be on the police force, Menino refuses to obey and instead he short staffs the police department at the expense of the City’s safety. It makes sense that we maximize the limited staffing of the police force and the comprehensive training they receive by concentrating their efforts on crime prevention and enforcement. It is not logical to make a police officer work additional time doing detail work at road construction and other projects that can be done by less skilled members of our work force. To qualify to be a flagger in Massachusetts only requires four hours of training and a $175 fee to get certified. Clearly, our police officers are way over qualified for construction details. It is hard enough for our police force to fight crime as it is, without having to work additional hours directing traffic.

If I am elected Mayor, I will stop the practice of requiring police officers to handle non-crucial detail work. Instead, I will hire and train Boston residents in accordance with the Boston Jobs Policy (at least 10 percent women and at least 25% minorities) to do this work. I would also like to make this work available to Police Cadets who have passed through the Police Academy but can’t be hired as police officers until positions become available.

The benefits of this are many. We allow police officers to be at their best for their supremely important job of public safety. We help to lower the unemployment rate in Boston by hiring residents to fill these jobs. We lower taxes for Boston residents by lowering the costs of construction to our roads, bridges and buildings in the City of Boston. This can help lower the cost of building housing as well.

Kevin McCrea says “We need to cut costs and find ways to make our streets safer. This does both.”

UPDATE: A south end resident chimes in:

I should tell you of what the District 4 CSO said to a group of us who met regarding the construction of 303 Columbus Ave. (a busy street, as you know). We were concerned that since the construction was mid-block, and completely shut off the sidewalk, getting across the street was dicey since we had to step out from the mid-block crosswalk directly into traffic. The crosswalk was blocked from view by the fencing around the site. (The fencing contained advertising on the chain link which made it impossible to see through.) The cars couldn't see the pedestrians, the pedestrians couldn't see the car.

The cop in charge of the site sat in his car all day doing Herald crossword puzzles. We told the CSO about it, and her answer was (this is nearly a direct quote) "it's not his job to ensure pedestrian safety. His job is to stop traffic to let construction vehicles (cement, etc) onto the site."

In light of that, I'd really like someone (Mr. Mayor?) to explain to me exactly how having police details at constructions sites enhances safety. At least a flagger would have a flag and would know how to use it.

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