27 Simi Valley Officers Quit Volunteer Duties
Twenty-seven Simi Valley police officers, including SWAT team members, have resigned from volunteer assignments during a labor dispute, but city officials said the action will not affect law enforcement in this Ventura County city of about 100,000.
Police Chief Paul Miller called the resignations “symbolic at this point.” He said that if there is an emergency, such as a gunman holding hostages, “the officers will respond when the chips are down.”
But Sgt. Gary Collins, a spokesman for the department’s 85 officers, sergeants and detectives, said the action will force Miller to call in deputies from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department for some duties, including serving warrants on suspects considered dangerous.
Mutual Aid Agreement
Miller said he will first ask his officers to work before contacting the Sheriff’s Department under a mutual aid agreement.
Miller said he will order six officers who resigned their volunteer positions as firearms specialists to resume their duties supervising the department’s weekly shooting practice. The department’s next practice is scheduled for today.
“We are not going to go without our regularly scheduled pistol practice,” Miller said.
In addition to the firearms specialists, known as range masters, the resignations leave the department without its 14-member Special Weapons and Tactics team, which serves certain arrest and search warrants and deals with suspects holding hostages. The five-member Crisis Negotiating Team also resigned, as did two officers who train 13- to 18-year-old volunteers in the Explorer program.
The action comes after an impasse was reached last week in contract negotiations between the city and the Simi Valley Police Officers Assn.
The union denied that it is behind the resignations. But an attorney for the union said pressure will be applied continually on the city to persuade city officials to accede to officers’ demands.
The officers are demanding a 9% salary increase over two years and a workweek of four 10-hour days, and they want their pay to be adjusted in the 21st month of the contract to equal the average police salary in 12 specified Southern California cities.
The city has offered a salary increase of up to 24% over a four-year period, and wants to pay no more than 50% of the difference between Simi Valley police wages and the average wage in the 12 cities.