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CPOA sends council tough warning about contracts

The Claremont Police Officers Association (CPOA) is turning up the heat on the city council amid ongoing contract negotiations.

A video released by the CPOA on Sunday claims the council—and specifically Mayor Corey Calaycay—have “successfully dismantled the Claremont Police Department and failed to make public safety a priority.”

In a statement, Mr. Calaycay said, “Despite what our police officers believe, I do deeply respect the work that they do for our community, as I respect the work of all law enforcement.”

The mayor acknowledged it was a difficult time to be in law enforcement due to realignment and people second-guessing the actions of officers.

“That said, I’m disappointed in the direction that they chose to take in our negotiations,” he said.

The city and the CPOA have been fighting over contract terms for over a year, and the CPOA has claimed they have been working without a contract for over 450 days.

Part of what the CPOA has asked for is a salary increase of four percent for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and another four percent increase for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, as part of their new contract. The city has maintained a desire for equity amongst all other employee groups, and also cited the current structural deficit as a reason not to grant the increase.

No other employee group received a salary increase during last year’s round of contract negotiations.

After months of closed-door meetings, the CPOA rejected the city’s last, best and final offer in February. After an impasse was declared, the city council imposed terms and conditions of employment (as opposed to a memorandum of understanding) at the June 25 meeting.

In the months since, members of the CPOA have spoken during public comment at two council meetings, denouncing the city’s “one size fits all contracts” and accusing the council of not appreciating their police officers.

The terms and conditions were passed right before this year’s round of contract negotiations, which began in July.

In the video, which features cartoon drawings of the council members and sad police officers, the CPOA accuses Mr. Calaycay of imposing “two unfavorable contracts upon your officers, which has led to low morale and uncertainty amongst them all.”

The video claims three officers have already left for other departments, eight are “in the process of leaving,” and 15 more “are actively exploring other police departments to join.”

“If that happens, it would be close to a 60 percent loss in police officers, something Claremont PD couldn’t survive,” the video claims.

Detective Matt Hamill, the president of the CPOA, told the COURIER those numbers came from a survey of association members.

“One of the questions was, ‘Have you applied elsewhere to other organizations?’ And eight people said yes,” Det. Hamill said.

Of the three who already left, two went to the Ontario Police Department and one got a job with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Det. Hamill said.

This isn’t the first time the CPOA has targeted Mr. Calaycay during contract negotiations. In October 2011, an attorney representing the association, Dieter Dammeier, sent a letter to the then-councilmember claiming he was prioritizing money away from the Claremont Police Department and vowed to “actively oppose” Mr. Calaycay in any future elections, according to previous articles in the COURIER.

“I’m disappointed we’ve returned to that activity,” Mr. Calaycay said. “And at this point in time, it fuels the division and anger that we see displayed in our society and certainly on social media.”

The video says Claremont ranks 11th among 12 other police departments in “total compensation.” Det. Hamill said those cities—Arcadia, Azusa, Brea, Chino, Covina, Glendora, La Verne, Monrovia, Montclair, Rialto and Upland—are “survey cities,” meaning cities of similar size to Claremont that are agreed upon by the CPOA and the city to do a comparative analysis.

The video ends urging residents to contact the Claremont city council about the contract dispute “so we can retain our veteran officers and save Claremont PD.”

“What we would like to see is our members fairly compensated, and for us to retain our veteran officers so we could continue to provide the highest levels of service to the community and residents,” Det. Hamill said.

Closed-door negotiations between the city and the CPOA continued Thursday afternoon, Det. Hamill said.

“I hope that we can stop with this type of behavior and we will be able to continue to work in a positive way with our negotiating team as we work on their contract agreement,” Mr. Calaycay said.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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