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Police union fighting for Quinn Bill pay; At issue are raises for college degrees.

Byline: Craig S. Semon

STURBRIDGE - The Sturbridge police union is fighting to keep full pay incentives under the Quinn Bill.

A union representative made their case before selectmen Monday night.

The 1970 Police Career Incentive Pay Program, or Quinn Bill, gives police officers pay increases for earning degrees in law enforcement and criminal justice.

Speaking for the union, lawyer Timothy M. Burke of Natick told selectmen Monday night that the Quinn Bill attracts better educated, better trained and better equipped officers. However, cuts in the Quinn Bill are going to translate to a 20 percent to 25 percent loss of base salary for Sturbridge police officers and deeply affect the department, he said.

Typically, the town gives roughly $120,000 toward the Quinn Bill and the state reimburses it $50,000, Town Administrator James J. Malloy said.

But next fiscal year, because of town meeting action and a $26,000 state cut, there will be only about $75,000 for Quinn incentives.

Originally, Police Chief Thomas J. Ford III was looking for $147,585 toward the Quinn Bill for FY10; however, at the annual Town Meeting, the town cut out roughly $73,000 for the line item, Mr. Malloy said. In addition, with the town expecting $24,000 in state reimbursement, the net cost to the town is still $50,000, Mr. Malloy said.

Mr. Burke said this is going to create a caste system of two different kinds of police departments in the state - "those who are able to retain and recruit the cream of the crop" and "those who aren't."

Police Officer John P. Paciorek Jr. told selectmen the police union made "float shifts" concessions in January that saved the town $22,000 in a relatively short time.

"We were looking at it at from our perspective of we're giving the town the $22,000 worth of flow shifts without a blink of an eye, saying we'll work with you until the end of time," Officer Paciorek said.

He said officers are going to lose anywhere between $5,000 to $12,000 in their base pay.

"I believe you pay your people well. You retain them and you keep them and you keep them happy and they are going to put out for you for a long period of time," Officer Paciorek said.

Police Chief Thomas J. Ford III said Sturbridge gets its money's worth from his officers.

"You've got to keep supporting every one of these men and women that put themselves out there and give 100 percent," he told selectmen.

Mr. Malloy said the discussion isn't quite over yet because the Legislature hasn't come up with a budget. The consensus of the board was that they hope to revisit the issue and do whatever they can to ease the financial burden on the officers.

NAME: STURBRIDGE SELECTMEN; STURBRIDGE POLICE DEPARTMENT
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 17, 2009
Words:474
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