Police Agencies in New York Plead for Help From Governor Hochul
The Police Benevolent Association of New York State (PBA) was established in 2011 and is a law enforcement labor union that represents 1,200 members of the New York State Agency Police Services Unit (APSU). The PBA has issued a plea to Governor Kathy Hochul for help.
The PBA of New York represents New York State University (SUNY) Police, the New York State Environmental Conservation Police, the New York State Park Police, and the New York State Forest Rangers and unfortunately, the same staffing shortages that the rest of the state is struggling with has become an issue for agencies represented by the PBA.
The PBA states that there is a very real fear that a continued lack of staff could lead to even more dangerous situations for both individuals and communities. The PBA cited a recent incident that happened at Niagara Falls where a woman suffering from depression took her life by driving into the Niagara River, less than 100 years from the Falls. The PBA pointed out that had there been more State Park Police presence, they may have been able to save the woman's life.
New York state is experiencing a very severe mental health crisis and the PBA believes that if there were better staffing, more lives might be able to be saved which is why the PBA has asked Governor Kathy Hochul as well as the state legislature help to address the mental health crisis by helping to make sure that all efforts are made to ensure all PBA member agencies are fully staffed.
According to the PBA, the New York State Park Police, New York State University Police, and Encon Officers and Forest Rangers with the State Department of Environmental Conservation have been working for just about three years without contracts or a twenty-year retirement option.
In a statement, PBA of New York State president Manny Vilar said, “We’re losing officers every day across the state to local police departments that provide better retirement benefits and compensation."
It's not just about wanting to fill vacancies, it's also about serving the people when they need help the most which is difficult to do when so short-staffed, “We are a proactive police force that is often called upon to save the life of a person experiencing a mental health crisis and these current deficits are jeopardizing the state’s ability to keep people safe.”
The PBA believes that if Governor Hochul and the state legislator work with them to address these massive staffing shortages by working toward better compensation and retirement benefits that in the end, those changes will only be better for everyone.
Vilar also said, "No person who puts their life on the line to protect and serve New Yorkers should be forced to make the difficult choice between remaining with the agency they love or providing for their family."