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July 8, 2014

Oneonta police return to eight-hour shifts

Oneonta police officers are patrolling again on eight-hour shifts, as the city has ended an extended experiment of 12-hour work days.

The shifts were switched June 30 after a three-month trial that started in September and was lengthened for further implementation and evaluation.

“The 12-hour shifts do not lend themselves to a strong operational effectiveness,” Police Chief Dennis Nayor said in a memorandum distributed recently to the department, Common Council members and city officials. Staffing “dead spots,” lack of flexibility and longer daily tours create compromises to safety, he said.

“I had to make a decision to determine if it would be in the best interests of the department and our community,” Nayor said in a telephone interview last week.

Nayor said he made the decision to resume the eight-hour shifts though the police officers union favored the 12-hour schedule because of time off it allowed.

Under the 12-hour schedule, officers worked two days, then had three days off.

Ralph Purdy, president of the United Federation of Police Officers Inc., said Monday that the 12-hour shifts saved the city money in overtime and sick time.

Dan Nulton, the Oneonta officers union representative who is on vacation, has more details, according to Purdy, who said he would check with Nulton on whether the chief made a unilateral decision that could be grounds for filing a complaint with the state Public Employment Relations Board.

Joseph Steflik Jr., attorney negotiating for the city, said the city and police officers union have a contract that calls for eight-hour shifts. The contract expiration date was Dec. 31, but under PERB regulations, officers continue working under terms of the previous agreement, Steflik said.

The 12-hour scheduling was a test that had a sunset clause, said Steflik, a lawyer with Coughlin & Gerhart. The city gave the officers union the option of 10-hour shifts, he said, and otherwise the agreement reverts to eight-hour scheduling.

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