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True Story: PA Police Union Files Complaint Against Chief for Making Off-Duty Arrest

"the union president said the chief, as member of management, should not actively root out crime"

Every once in awhile I issue a warning before a story saying that if you are easily enraged by union absurdity you should quit reading. This is a story that deserves such a warning.

The police union in Scranton, PA has filed a complaint against its police chief, Dan Duffy, because he dared to make an off-duty arrest for a man believed to be in a possession of marijuana. What's so egregious about that? According to the union, the chief's manager status places him outside the "bargaining unit," and that arrests are solely the responsibility of officers who are in the union.

Deep breaths.

The Times-Tribune reports:

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.

"I think it's absurd. I'm not going to turn my head on crime that takes place," Chief Duffy said. "I took the same oath (as a police officer) that everyone else took.

"On my day off and I'm driving around as the police chief, and that's wrong?" he asked.

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.

The arrest occurred in March when Duffy, who was not scheduled to work that day, decided to take some time to check in to complaints of drug activity in West Scranton. He eventually arrested a man for just that.

"We're not out to bust his chops," Sgt. Bob Martin, police union president, told the Tribune. "It's not against the chief. The action is against the city."

Still, Martin admits that Duffy is "morally and legally obligated" to arrest someone he catches breaking a crime. But, he adds, crime fighting should be left to officers, not the chief:

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.

"It's not like I am getting the information and keeping it to myself and playing hero," the chief said. "I will continue to do this. I'm a public servant."

I warned you.

One last thing…
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