(cont'd from above)
Police officers have handled security at the arena, as well as all other city facilities. However, under the current council’s administration, all security has been contracted out to Pravda, an international corporation.
In a well-orchestra press event, police officers stood at attention, shoulder to shoulder, in a half circle that filled the front of the room. The president of the police union Local 4336, Juan Martinez, stood on a podium that seemed to rise up and float above the sea of blue.
“The safety of the citizens of Metrocity is at stake,” said Martinez. “We do not disparage the good nature of the men and women employed by Pravda. But as police officers, only we have the extensive training to safely address any emergency that may arise on city property. We urge City Council to put the safety of citizens first and revoke the contracts with Pravda.”
When asked what action, other than a press conference, the union will take if the council does not yield, Martinez said, “As officers, we are sworn to protect the citizens of Metrocity, and we will continue to do so. No one should see this situation as an invitation to do their worst.”
“However,” Martinez said, “on some matters, especially those of particular interest to city leaders, let’s say, Metrocity police officers might not be as enthusiastic or as cooperative as in the past. The union will not support any acts of insubordination, but we do not expect officers to go above and beyond the call of duty.”
City Council Chairman Miles Chaplin issued a prepared statement following the union’s press conference. “The city council and I will not be threatened by any city employees regarding decisions we make for the good of the city. On behalf of the council, I will reiterate that we took the best course of action for the city. Finally, if any questions arise about the conduct of an officer as a result of this disagreement between the council and the union, the officer will be placed immediately on leave without pay.”
The mayor could not be reached for comment.
Tensions between the Metrocity Police union and city council heated up a couple of notches yesterday.
Still sore over the council’s decision to hand the remaining security duties for public properties to a private company—and the mayor’s recommendation that similar changes be made at state facilities—the local police union held a press conference yesterday to express their unified dismay over the changes. And, although their disapproval was delivered with velvet gloves, the union made it clear that the council’s actions will have repercussions on the rest of the city.
At its last meeting, City Council voted to hire Pravda Security to handle security at the Metrocity Civic Center, the city’s 15,000-seat indoor arena, known affectionately as “The Cigar Box.” Councilors said the contract would result in a savings for the city because it would eliminate overtime payments to city police officers.