Union Questions Police Contract Clause

A clause in the current police contract that demands new cops stay on the East Haven force for at least three years before leaving has kicked up a dispute between statewide police representatives and Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr.

Trumbull Police Detective Robert Coppola, treasurer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' Connecticut Council of Police, said a cop has the right to decide which town he or she wants to work in. He said, in his opinion, the clause is a violation of state law.

Maturo doesn't agree.

"The town's position is that the agreements are valid, enforceable, and not contrary to law,'' said Maturo. "Our Town's Labor Counsel, Attorney Frank Kolb, has indicated that pursuant to C.G.S. Sec. 31-51r(c), the agreements have been developed and entered into with the knowledge and understanding of the employees' bargaining representatives.

"However, more importantly, because of the town's massive investment in training and cutting-edge technology at the police department, applicants are actively seeking to become part of the East Haven Police Department family,'' Maturo said.

The town moved to have recruits sign the letters after the department had a rash of new officers transfer to other departments last year. Chief Brent Larrabee, in the past, has said it costs roughly $100,000 to train each new officer. Larrabee also has said, repeatedly, when the department is short officers, overtime costs soar.

Maturo said the whole discussion, in his opinion, will soon be unnecessary.

"The department is rapidly becoming one of 'choice' rather than one to 'avoid.' As a result, the need for the pre-employment agreements is likely to become a moot topic shortly anyway," said Maturo.

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