June 2019, Post Trivia – Happy Days 1969-1980

June 2019
Post 13 Trivia John Young, Patrolman
Happy Days: 1969-1980

For the last three decades of the 20th century, the history of the PBA had many ups and downs for police officers and their families. The six presidents who led the organization during this period were Ed Kiernan (1969-72), Bob McKiernan (1972-74), Ken McFeeley (1974-76), Doug Weaving (1976-77), Sam DeMila (1977-80) and Charley Peterson (1980). They led the organization through a six-day police strike, allegations of corruption, police lay-offs and demonstrations.

The membership went through many battles with several mayors, police bosses, the press, politicians, and some very dangerous individuals. They were fined under the Taylor Law (about $600.00). They witnessed the layoff of 5,000 cops, and attended over 80 police funerals for those cops killed in the line of duty since 1970. Today in retirement, we watch as some of these killers are paroled by the bleeding heart parole board members who were put into office by a governor, who champions cop killers.

On the other hand, the membership witnessed some great events. Remember the first blackout in 1965, when people actually helped each other? There were several papal visits, two Op-Sail celebrations and annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades.

Members who worked patrol saw several charts during their careers. We all started with the 20 Squad chart (13 – 80 hour and 41 – 56 hour swings). Do you remember working the 5th late tour when it fell on the weekend, and a 5:00 AM excusal for a court appearance?

In 1972, the PBA negotiated the 24 Squad chart that improved family life of police officers. It gave cops 18 additional days off a year, with 96, 80, 72, 64 and 56 hour swings during the year. Instead of the 8-hour tour, cops worked 8 hours and 35 minutes. We got 15 minutes of unsupervised time, as the other 20 minutes was for roll call and in-service training.

An arbitration following the 1975 budget crises saw the 24 Squad chart being replaced by the 22 Squad chart. Remember the 10-hour tour during the second set of 4x12s where we had a post change at midnight from RMP duty to a foot post? I remember taking 2 hours lost time on that tour and using the other 8 hours before the next 10 hour appearance. Since then, all cops must work a total of 2,088 hours a year, and those working the patrol chart must make 243 appearances (8 hour & 35 minute tour).

In 1988, Commissioner Ben Ward wanted a chart change. The PBA allowed the department to institute the steady tour in the hope of reducing some of the stress, namely that some officers on one tour did not get to know newer members of other tours. Due to “night differential” some members wanted the opportunity to work that tour.

During this period, other benefits were won by the PBA that are not enjoyed by other police departments in New York State. Some of these benefits are The Heart Bill (no presumption of line of duty in Nassau), disability pension (NYPD got 75% while Nassau got 60%), a Health & Welfare fund, two man cars and unlimited sick. The reason for unlimited sick is that the city doesn’t pay into Workman’s Compensation. I remember during the 1977-78 contract talks, Pat Murphy (later 1st Deputy) stated they were going to take away “unlimited sick.” My response, “We should get 13 sick days, similar to civilian employees.”

Since sick-time had to be used before year’s end, cops could plan on calling in sick on New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, Labor Day (West Indian Parade), Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That left seven other days. As a veteran and a Coast Guard reservist, if I worked July 4th, Memorial and Veterans days I would get excusal days.

The organization fought for the Residency Bill that allowed police officers to reside outside the city like other civil servants. Once the Tappan Zee Bridge was built (1955) and completion of the Palisades Parkway (between exit 5 and 9), cops moved into Rockland & Orange Counties. Remember the phrase, “I’m only 45 minutes from the precinct.” That might have been true except on Sunday evenings when you had to go in for a late tour.

There was a “Reign of Terror” brought upon cops by the Black Liberation Army that included the stabbing of Mike Sapik (32nd Precinct), the sniper attack upon Ralph Bax and William Kivlihan (28th Precinct), and the machine-gunning of Nick Binetti & Tom Curry (26th Precinct). This led to Ed Kiernan’s request for shotguns in every RMP car. One remembers Stuart Schwartz (45th Precinct) campaigning on the shotgun issue in 1968.

Similar attacks in other cities by militant groups led to most policemen carrying their “off-duty” in their overcoat pocket or snapped to their gun belt, as a back-up. Some cops purchased the Browning 9mm automatic pistol because it could be concealed in the new leather jacket that was authorized for RMP duty. Headquarters was more interested in good public relations than in the safety of the cops on patrol.

Remember the Harlem riots when cops refused to turn out from Mount Morris Park until they were given helmets? The only helmets available at that time were those old air-raid warden helmets that were in the trunks of the RMPs. After some calls from 250 B’way to Centre Street, the department got Army steel pots from the 7th Division Armory. The helmets were delivered in the PBA canteen, as the department had no other means of getting them to the waiting cops. Department issued helmets became part of the 1967-68 contract and hopefully will not become a give-up in some future contract talk.

The dual-murders of Waverly Jones & Joe Piagentini (32nd Precinct) and Gregory Foster & Rocco Laurie (9th Precinct) by the Black Liberation Army led to a nation-wide search for the perpetrators. These murders and the killing of police officers across the nation led to federal benefits being paid to the survivors of police officers killed in the line of duty. The legislation was introduced by Congressman Mario Biaggi, former PBA 1st Vice President under John Carton and former Detective Squad Commander of the 48th Precinct. Mario Biaggi was also responsible for getting the site for the National Police Memorial in Washington DC.