(EDITOR’S NOTE: At the March 1 City Council meeting, a members of the Monterey Park Police Officers Association spoke during the Oral Communication period regarding the lack of a new contract for salaries and benefits. This is a transcription a presentation Cpl. Robin Lopez, one of the many officers and public supporters who spoke.)
"My Name is Robin Lopez and I have been an officer here for almost 24 years. I spent 10 years in patrol and the last 13 years plus as a detective. I can say that in all those years I have never seen morale with the department as low as it has been in the last seven years.
When I first started, we were budgeted for 82 sworn officers. Over the years, the city reduced that to 74. During that time we have also seen the population grow. We have seen a wave of new crimes like Identity theft and cyber crimes. State laws such as AB 109 and Propositions 47 and 57 have resulted in hundreds of criminals being released early with little or no parole or supervision, reduced sentences and reduction of felonies to misdemeanors meaning no jail time and causing a significant spike in crime. And, officers have become targets for assassination simply for wearing a blue uniform.
Six months ago, 2 criminals were contacted in this city after committing a crime at a local store. The store did not want them prosecuted so there was noting we could do. One of them went on to assassinate a Whittier Police officer last weekend after first killing his cousin, who was the other suspect.
Working conditions are terrible. There are holes in the station walls, leaking ceilings, outdated equipment and inadequate station security.
We are constantly asked to do more and more with less and less. And, we do we provide a service to this community like no other department.
But, we have not had a raise in eight years. Our pay and benefits are among the worst in California. There are no incentives to attract qualified candidates and several veteran officers have already applied to go elsewhere.
In the last eight years our pay has been reduced by 14 % including a two-year period that we agreed to take a 5% pay cut in an effort to help the city through a difficult economic downturn.
During that same time, the city department heads have had multiple raises, including our chief.
Now we are once again negotiating for a new contract and have been working without one since last July. The city has shown their appreciation for our hard work, dedication, sacrifice and the sacrifices made by our families by starting the negotiation process with an offer of a whopping 1% raise for the next two years. This is what we are dealing with.
The city is no longer negotiating in good faith. They are trying to divide us by pitting us against junior officers and against our supervisors.
We are your family, your friends, and your neighbors. We work hard for you every day in spite of all of this. All we are asking is to be treated fairly and compensated fairly.
Please contact your city council members and let them know that you support us."