Poughkeepsie, New York, January 31, 2020—
In a memo sent today to the ten Democratic members of the Dutchess County Legislature who cosponsored a home rule request to provide 207c line-of-duty benefits to Dutchess County Probation officers, Legislative Chairman Gregg Pulver wrote, “I would like to affirm my steadfast support for our County employees especially those with public safety responsibilities. The County is bound by both State Law, Dutchess County Administrative Code, and its CSEA contract which prohibit the Legislature from negotiating with CSEA or individual members of a union. It is not the Legislature’s role to extend or retract benefits from union or non-union employees. By not considering this home rule request, we are not preventing employees from receiving this benefit as that must be done through collective bargaining which does not State approval is not necessary.”
There is no legal basis for the claim that Dutchess County is legally precluded from providing 207c benefits to probation officers. Nassau County followed this exact process to extend line-of-duty benefits to its probation officers and the resulting law has been in effect for 21 years. Bipartisan majorities in both houses of the New York legislature voted twice to extend these benefits at the state level. Cuomo vetoed those bills due to concerns about alleged cost, not illegality (Veto Message No. 185 of 2017). State law provides for the provision of 207c benefits for both police officers and corrections officers as well.
Republicans’ claim of ‘support for county employees’ means nothing if it does not include tangible protections for those who protect us and put themselves at risk while doing so. Evidence suggests that line-of-duty benefits would be rarely used and not expensive, but they would bring peace of mind to these brave officers who keep us safe, and to their families.
The Democratic Caucus will continue to pursue every avenue to ensure that no Dutchess peace officer lacks this essential support.
For further information contact:
Rebecca Edwards, Minority Leader
Dutchess County Legislator (District 6, Poughkeepsie) email@example.com 845-705-3778 (voice, text)
Nick Page, Assistant Minority Leader
Dutchess County Legislator (District 18, Beacon/Fishkill)
firstname.lastname@example.org 617-335-4446 (voice, text)