The headline issued by Communications Director Gilmartin is adamant and succinct: “City of Yonkers Launches Police Body-Worn Camera Pilot Program.”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano Unveils new Police Body Worn Camera Pilot Program at Yonkers City Hall
YONKERS, NY — August 18, 2020 — Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano Communications Director Christina Gilmartin ascribed her name to a press release issued today in which she advises that Mayor Spano and Yonkers Police Commissioner John Mueller have today launched the Yonkers Police Department’s new police body-worn camera pilot program. She asserts the “pilot program” will be “starting August 20th” and that “16 members of the Yonkers Police will wear body-worn cameras during their patrol tours during a free three-month trial (HEZI NOTE: The free three-month trial is a done deal; it is not a trial!).
“Since 2012 our Yonkers Police Department has enacted over 100 reforms (HEZI NOTE: no such reforms have ever been noted before; nor have any reforms been publicly divulged’; if there is any efficacy to these ‘unkown’ reforms, where have they been corroborated, by whom, and when were they ever validated?) In the effort to reimagine how local law enforcement agencies interact with its communities,” said Mayor Spano. (HEZI NOTE: if law enforcement agencies are interacting with their respective communities in Yonkers, why have these concepts never been divulged nor codified? Where can these concepts be found and how are they defined?) “The implementation of a police body camera program is something we’ve long pursued (HEZI NOTE: in the many years that body cameras were contemplated for use by police departments, the Yonkers Police Department through the YPBA have chosen to not agree to its officers wearing body-suit cameras.) And now I am proud we’ve come to agreements with our police unions and City Council in sanctioning a program that will better serve and provide even more transparency for our residents and police officers.” (HEZI NOTE: Christina Gilmartin refers to Mayor Mike Spano, the Yonkers City Council, and the YPBA and the Yonkers Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants Associates (CLSA). If there were “transparency” why have Yonkersites, the taxpayers, reading ambiguous words which detract from the truth regarding the body-worn cameras? This “deal” is not a three-months trial. This is part of a contract designed to serve the likes of YPBA Pres. Det. Olson). Commissioner John J. Mueller stated, “I am both excited and hopeful for the upcoming body-worn camera program. I believe that this program is yet another of many steps, initiatives, and innovations that will further move us toward increased transparency with how the YPD interacts with residents). (HEZI NOTE: Suggesting terms that are made vacuous by their being mentioned by P.C. Mueller does not make it so. He does not define the terms/ “many steps, initiatives, and innovations, increased transparency, and how the YPD interacts with residents). The implementation of body-worn cameras was at the top of the list of community input with regard to police reform (HEZI NOTE: only because America cried out for accountability which YPD has long languished passive/aggressively with the PBA against it being incorporated as a tool for the YPD). The press release continues to suggest that Mayor Spano’s administration moved quickly and decisively to make the pilot program happen. (HEZI NOTE: Only after monetary compensation was demanded and Mayor Mike Spano agreed and capitulated to extortion). We will be carefully assessing all aspects of the body-worn camera usage during the pilot program phase with the ultimate goal of implementing a protocol that protects both our officers and the residents we serve.” (HEZI NOTE) More of the B.S. already noted herein). This is a longevity agreement that will add 14 percent longevity agreement that will add 14 percent at the time of retirement and will be added to those retiring to their pension allocations
The City of Yonkers agreed to a free three-month pilot program with Axon, which includes the use and training for 16 cameras. (HEZI NOTE: The corollary is that this program is part of the elite members of the Yonkers Police Department in the Third and Fourth Precincts who will wear Axon Flex 3 body cameras during their patrol tours. The cameras will transmit high definition video and audio when activated by the officer and will be uploaded after each tour to a secure cloud system at evidence.com. After the 90-day trial, the City will release a Request for Proposal (RFP) in order to purchase approximately 400 body-worn cameras for long-term use. The initial cost of the system is estimated to be $1.7 million, and $1.2 million each subsequent year. Axon currently provides service and cameras to the police departments in New York City, White Plains, NY and Westchester County. (HEZI NOTE: As noted above, why take up a 3-months long trial when New York City, White Plains, and Westchester County Police Departments already engage AXON and the product those cities purchased are proven to work to the benefit of the police departments mentioned and the communities served by these respective police departments.
“I am looking forward to the implementation of this three month pilot body camera program. When I first introduced this back in 2015, I understood then the importance of body cameras and what it meant for our community. Body cameras would mean added trust between our community and law enforcement, but it would also mean transparency and protections for those on our police force,” stated Yonkers City Council Majority Leader Corazon Pineda-Isaac. “In the wake of recent events taking place throughout our country, the time to move forward with body cameras is even more pressing. Body cameras would not only hold our police officers accountable when on patrol, but they would protect them as well from potentially frivolous complaints lodged against them. It’s a win-win for the police department as well as for the residents of our City”. (HEZI NOTE: When then Yonkers City Council Member espoused the purchase of this system 5 years ago she was overridden behind closed doors by PBA Det. Pres. Keith Olson, and then Police Chief John Mueller (now Police Commissioner). Concern by YPD and the constituents within their care seemed of little interest then by Olson and Mueller. More money is now attached to the YPD, but only for those heading out the door over the next 5 years onward… specifically Olson who will hang around another 2 years.
According to the latest FBI statistics, the City of Yonkers is ranked the safest city of its size (200,000-250,000 residents). Since 2011, excessive force complaints against the Yonkers Police Department have decreased by nearly 80%, with currently no reported excessive force complaints against the Department in 2020. (HEZI NOTE: The FBI has no statistics by which these assertions may be validated through their data base since COVID-19 and even months before. When Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. attended a radio interview on the Westchester On the Level radio broadcast, he advised that the crime rate in Yonkers had increased by 39 percent. Even though the term “transparency” is bandied about, monthly statistics have not been divulged to any news outlet. Further still, under Police Commissioner John Mueller the Compstat tracking system is no longer used since he became P.C. That alone informs the reader that there are no statistics to validate the innocuous, meaningless terms espoused by Mueller, Olson or Christina Gilmartin on behalf of the Mayor who would only know what he is being told by Mueller and Olson. Also note that the shot stopper program has been allowed to deteriorate to the point of not being operational.
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Letter addressing the Yonkers Police Benevolent Association membership written by Yonkers Police Benevolent Association Det. President Keith Olson dated August 17, 2020.
“Dear PBA members,
“As you all know, the COVID pandemic has prevented the PBA from conducting our normal monthly meetings. While we have supplemented this problem a bit by holding meetings via Zoom, it is not the same as having meetings in person. Please know that the PBA Board & Trustees meet and communicate often. In the meantime, while we find a way to solve this problem, if you have any issues, please do not hesitate to reach out to your trustee or a board member.
”There are a number of major issues we are dealing with that I would have preferred to speak about in person. One of those issues is the body worn cameras (BWC’s.) After many years of discussions and negotiations, the PBA and the City of Yonkers recently came to an agreement on this issue. Tomorrow (Olson refers to today, August 18th as attested by the press release issued by Mayor Mike Spano’s Communications Director Christina Gilmartin on behalf of Mayor Mike Spano), Mayor Spano will announce the launching of a BWC pilot program. This pilot program will begin within the next week or so with the ultimate goal of outfitting all officers in patrol with BWC’s (HEZI NOTE: Deal done).
”The Yonkers PBA has maintained for years that implementing a BWC program was a mandatory subject of collective bargaining (HEZI NOTE: The PBA refused to engage the latest technology). Maintaining this steadfast position allowed the PBA to ultimately negotiate a BWC policy that is fair to our members (HEZI NOTE: only for those over 15 years or more, that is, eligible for longevity pay) and also allowed the opportunity for us to negotiate a tremendous financial benefit to the entire membership (HEZI NOTE: The new recruits get nada for years out). Over the next three years, there will be increases to all three steps in longevity pay. Currently, longevity pay is paid as follows;
”Upon completion of 9 years, members receive 3% of their annual base salary.
”Upon completion of 14 years, members receive 6% of their annual base salary.
”Upon completion of 18 years, members receive 9% of their annual base salary.
”Starting on September 15, 2020, longevity pay will be increased as follows;
”Upon completion of 9 years, members receive 4% of their annual base salary.
”Upon completion of 14 years, members receive 8% of their annual base salary.
”Upon completion of 18 years, members receive 12% of their annual base salary.
”On September 15, 2021, longevity pay will be increased as follows;
”Upon completion of 9 years, members receive 5% of their annual base salary.
”Upon completion of 14 years, members receive 10% of their annual base salary.
”Upon completion of 18 years, members receive 13% of their annual base salary.
”On September 15, 2022, longevity pay will be increased as follows;
”Upon completion of 18 years, members receive 14% of their annual base salary.
”(HEZI NOTE): The longevity pay is a bonus on top of the regular and overtime salaries earned. Longevity pay will be added and counted into one’s pension that is sustained many years beyond retirement and at this juncture it is questionable whether the City of Yonkers is financially capable to endure the future costs devised and noted above.
”The PBA fought long and hard for years on this issue. (HEZI NOTE: The PBA fought long and hard not to accept BWC’s. While every other Police Department in Westchester County had no difficulty accepting and using BWC’s, ONLY the Yonkers PBA membership chose to say, “No”, while everyone else said, “Yes!” It seems the Yonkers Way keeps on ticking and the taxpayer takes the beating.”)
”We did not settle it until we felt we had a deal that was fair to all of our members. (HEZI NOTE: The deal was not fair to the City of Yonkers because we are not financially capable to afford these payouts over the coming years. The conduct by the Yonkers PBA was absolute extortion.) (HEZI NOTE: This “deal” was a payout specifically designed for Yonkers PBA Det. Pres. Keith Olson to make a hefty financial exit over the next year or two, but no more. Mayor Mike Spano need not have allowed himself to be extorted unless he wanted to. It is evidently the latter.) Please, if anyone has any questions on this issue, please reach out to a PBA rep.
”Thank you all for everything you do, especially in these trying times. Stay vigilant and stay safe!
Det. Keith Olso”President