University at Buffalo Police Chief Gerald W. Schoenle Jr. is leading a call by the State University of New York Police Chiefs Association asking Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to sign a bill that would help university police departments retain campus police officers.
Retaining police officers has long been a problem for SUNY campuses, primarily because pension, disability and death benefits are inadequate when compared to those of other police officers in the state. Attracting and retaining officers also is important to university police diversity efforts.
The bill, S.3221 (Robach)/A.4519 (Abbate), would help correct the problem by giving university police officers the option of transferring from their current retirement system to the New York State and Local Police and Fire Retirement System. The P&F covers all 563 police departments in the state, with the exception of SUNY police departments, and offers different plans with half-pay retirement benefits after 20-25 years on the job.
"Safety on campuses is a top national concern and a concern of the governor's," said Schoenle, president of the chiefs association. "Experience and a diverse police force are important factors in operating a high-quality and professional police force. We are asking Gov. Cuomo to help us achieve safer campus settings and keep SUNY-trained police from leaving the SUNY police force."
University police officers are recruited, hired and trained at a cost of between $85,000 and $100,000 per officer. These taxpayer dollars are wasted when new officers leave. Municipalities understand this dynamic, as well, and are eager to recruit university police as a way to save training costs.
Among those expressing support for the bill are SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, Board of Trustees Chairman Carl McCall, as well as New York Women in Law Enforcement, National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives and advocacy centers against sexual assault.
It is also supported by the PBA of the New York State Troopers, The New York State Public Employee Conference, the Police Conference of New York, the Alliance of Public Retiree Organizations of New York, SUNY Student Assembly and the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.