President of NF Captain’s & Lieutenant’s Assoc. Pens Scathing Critique of Councilman Voccio’s “Public Safety on a Budget”

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A link to Councilman Chris Voccio’s “Public Safety on a Budget” piece, to which this response is directed, can be found here:


By: Lieutenant Michael Drake

President of the Niagara Falls Captain’s and Lieutenant’s Association

My name is Michael Drake and I am the President of the Niagara Falls Captain’s and Lieutenants Association. I have been asked by my membership to address the Facebook post that Councilman Voccio authored on September 21st. Since that time I have had numerous people ask me what I thought of the article and I have answered them all the same, it is well written representation of part of the truth. However I believe article is a bit misleading in the sense that it lists our last year’s salary for police and infers that the police brass are somehow overcompensated for the job that they do.

The NY State average annual base salary for a Police Lieutenant is currently $108,086. Well above our base salary of roughly $78,000. The article also fails to mention the fact that last year we settled a contract that included retro payments going back to 2014, and that some of my members cashed in compensation time that we received from the City when we settled a court decision we won regarding a contract dispute going back to 2010.

I’ve been the President of this union since 2014 and have never once been approached by Mr. Voccio to meet, so I’m not sure how he has come to the conclusions he did regarding our compensation. He references our benefits but wasn’t around all of the years that the unions sacrificed raises to keep them.  He certainly wasn’t here when the brass and the rank and file split unions. (This was done so that one group couldn’t accuse the other of using their rank or membership size to influence the other.)

The bottom line is the article fails to recognize the simple truth that we work for our money. Our police department is a full service organization that is tasked with serving the public and fighting crime 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I manage the communications Division, the Information Technology Division, and I am on the Crash Management Team. I also do the Forensic Diagramming for the department so I get called in whenever there is a homicide or major incident. All of that doesn’t happen in a 40 hour work week.

Bottom line – there just simply aren’t enough employees to do the job effectively without putting in the extra hours. And our compensation for that work is the paycheck we receive.  If Mr. Voccio was unaware of all of this then at best his argument is poorly researched. If he was aware of it then it is a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth.

I’ve attended numerous council meetings and read some of Mr. Voccio’s articles. He often times complements the police. He fully supports Police and wants to put more of them on the street. He just wants to pay them less. He complements the hard work the fire department does, just questions whether or not we need to have them. He believes in supporting tourism but thinks we should spend less on it. He doesn’t believe government should fund social programs, but doesn’t have an answer for who should. These aren’t solutions to a problem. It’s not a plan of action; it’s a wish list for Santa.

I have met with the other council members on occasion and I can tell you they at least understand that Government is about working together to protect everyone’s interest. It is give and take, and it sometimes means we walk away not agreeing on things. But I’ve never walked away from meeting any of them feeling like I wasted my time. Mr. Voccio’s approach to conversation seems to be that he is the smartest guy talking and eventually everyone else is going to see that. Mr. Voccio wonders why he didn’t get the union’s support.

I can’t comment on the other unions but I know for me personally it is because I don’t think he is the solution to the City’s problems. He isn’t the type of guy that’s going to jump in the huddle and ask what he needs to do to help win the game. He prefers to sit on the sidelines and heckle the coaches and players. He came along at a time when the City is down and pointed out all the problems he sees. That’s nothing special, everyone knows how to complain, but it takes commitment to this community to work toward a solution. And in my opinion that’s not Mr. Voccio.

Mr. Voccio didn’t grow up with a love for this area, and he has no real ties to this community. If he doesn’t win reelection he will most likely move on, like he did in all of the other communities that didn’t elect him.

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