Police and Town Agree to Keep Officers' Shifts As-Is

The Town of East Hampton has agreed to extend the current scheduling of its police force.

The town and the Police Benevolent Association had been at loggerheads, with the P.B.A. rejecting the town's plan to have officers alternate between 12-hour day shifts and 12-hour night shifts every four months. A Jan. 1 deadline was looming over the dispute.

The current schedule, which has officers working exclusively either day or night 12-hour shifts all year, was instituted at the beginning of 2017 for a yearlong test.

The experimental schedule replaced one that had been in place for many years in which officers rotated through three shifts, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. It was extremely unpopular with the rank and file.

Anthony Bosco, president of the P.B.A., pointed to several facts earlier this week that he said demonstrated the superiority for both the department and the officers in maintaining a set 12-hour schedule throughout the year. They included decreases in both overtime paid out by the town and sick days taken by officers, a 16-percent increase in arrests, and a sharp increase in citations issued. In addition, the old eight-hour schedule required the department to divide officers into five squads. The schedule now in place divides the same number of officers into four squads, meaning more boots on the ground.

The two sides began negotiating the 2018 schedule at the end of November. The latest proposal from the town was to keep the present schedule for four months, to allow further negotiations. That was rejected by the P.B.A. in what Mr. Bosco described as an overwhelming majority at the end of a meeting at Ashawagh Hall in Springs earlier this week.

Instead, the P.B.A. countered with an either/or proposition: either extend the current scheduling formula for another year, or revert back to the unpopular, less productive rotation system. Jan. 1 was the deadline.

Deputy Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc sat down with Mr. Bosco at Town Hall on Dec. 29, and the two men signed a stipulation that will extend the current experimental schedule for another year. Mr. Van Scoyoc will be sworn in as town supervisor on Jan. 2.

Mr. Bosco said he anticipates that the town board will ratify the agreement at the Jan. 4 board meeting. The P.B.A. will hold a special meeting over the coming days to allow them to ratify it, as well.

"I'm pleased that we are moving forward in a positive way and am looking forward to resolving any remaining issues," Mr. Van Scoyoc said.

Mr. Bosco believes the one-year extension will give his members and the police chief ample time to work out any improvements that need to be made to the schedule. "We are more than willing to work with the chief," he said.

"There are still factors and issues which the fixed tours create that we will need more time to evaluate before making a final agreement on the terms of managing the schedule," Chief Michael Sarlo said by email. "There are numerous issues which we will continue to discuss and evaluate during this extension in hopes of coming up with agreeable terms that will still give our officers a healthy work chart while also meeting overall department needs."

Included in the new stipulation is language that if the two sides do not come to an agreement on a permanent scheduling process by Dec. 31, 2018, the schedule will revert to the eight-hour rotational shifts, a prospect neither side seems anxious to see. They have 367 days to work it out.

There is one group of P.B.A. members not covered by the current plan: the dispatchers. The department now employs 10 dispatchers, one of whom is on sick leave. They work on the old eight-hour rotating shift schedule. The town would need to increase the total number of dispatchers to 12 before they could switch to the set 12-hour shift schedule.