News coverage of PBA’s latest action to keep members safe
A number of news agencies have written stories regarding the PBA’s latest actions to ensure the safety of our members who drive Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors. Below are links to a few of the articles that have been written, as well as the text of the stories.
Times Herald-Record (Middletown): http://www.recordonline.com/archive/2003/06/13/onsticke.htm
The Buffalo News: http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20030613/1016836.asp
Union acts to protect troopers from car fires
Albany — PBA president advises no highway stops except in emergencies
By JAMES M. ODATO, Capitol bureau
First published: Friday, June 13, 2003
The union for State Police troopers is advising its members not to stop on highways for non-emergencies — apparently including routine tickets.
In an unprecedented move, the State Troopers PBA President Daniel M. De Federicis is advising members to take steps to minimize the chances of accidents with their Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor vehicles, several of which have had fires after rear-end crashes.
De Federicis is also calling on officers to reject the State Police’s "illegal imposition of ticket quotas and to ensure they put their own safety first."
He said the action is necessary to protect troopers "in light of four more CVPI fuel-fed fires in the month of May that resulted from rear-end collisions."
Two of those fires killed two troopers in other states, raising the number of police officers who have died in burning CVPIs since 1983 to 16, he said.
Since the fire problem became known, the state has installed fuel tank shields in every Crown Victoria patrol car. It has also set up a committee to research and report on fire suppression devices, equipment storage and other safety issues.
De Federicis said the advisory will likely be taken to heart by his members. He does not suggest a work stoppage, but recommends setting up radar devices near spots like service areas so that motorists can be ticketed well away from traffic.
PBA Troop G Delegate Jeffrey J. Kayser said that in light of the Crown Victoria problem, "the time has come to limit (troopers’) exposure sitting on the shoulder of the road writing tickets that may not be immediately necessary.
"Make the cars safe and then the troopers can resume their tasks of vehicle and traffic law enforcement," he said.
Lt. Glenn Miner, a State Police spokesman, said he is sure troopers will continue providing first-rate responses and service. Meanwhile, he said, the state will "work tirelessly to examine all areas which may improve the safety of the patrol vehicles and highway vehicle stops."
Write fewer tickets, union tells troopers
By John Milgrim
Ottaway News Service
Albany – New York’s highway drivers can put the pedal to the metal with near impunity starting today if troopers heed calls by their union to stop pulling over people in high-speed traffic.
In memos circulated to troopers statewide last night and today, the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers told patrols to avoid traffic stops on highways unless there’s an emergency.
It’s all because of the cars that troopers drive. Too many police officers have died in rear-end collisions while driving the cars, and too little has been done to make them safer, union officials said.
The Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, a souped-up version of the popular sedan, has been blamed for 16 police officers killed in fiery deaths nationwide since 1983. Each time, the cars were rear-ended and the gas tanks ignited.
"We are urging you to take all possible steps to avoid making non-emergency stops in areas where your CVPI will be exposed to a collision in high-speed traffic," the memo says. "We are urging all members to put their safety first and reject any illegal Division-imposed ticket quotas."
Troopers are virtually the only police patrolling roads like the Thruway, Interstate 84, Route 17 and the Northway.
State police spokesman Glenn Miner said yesterday that troopers understand highway safety is one of their primary missions, and "they will continue to perform their duties in accordance with the highest standards."
Late last year, Trooper Robert Ambrose was killed when his Ford Interceptor was rear-ended and burst into flames on the Thruway in Westchester. Union officials said that death may have been averted if the administration had installed plastic shields over the gas tanks.
Shields were recently installed on all state police cars after union members threatened to boycott the vehicles. Still, the plastic shields don’t make the cars safe enough, union President Dan DeFedericis said.
A spokesman for Ford could not be reached for comment yesterday.
It wouldn’t be the first time that troopers have protested work conditions. Ten years ago, troopers drastically reduced ticket writing because they lacked a contract. As soon as they threatened a massive increase in ticketing, the contract was signed.
THE BUFFALO NEWS
State troopers union issues call over car safety
By TOM PRECIOUS
News Albany Bureau
ALBANY – State troopers may start issuing fewer traffic tickets after a call Thursday by the troopers union to limit the number of non-emergency traffic stops they make until Ford Motor Co. improves the safety standards of its Crown Victoria model.
The unusual call comes after four more fuel-fed fires in other states last month involving the nation’s most popular police car.
"We are saying the car you are driving is so dangerous and that your employer, the Division of the State Police, has done virtually nothing to protect your safety that you have to take safety into your own hands," said Daniel De Federicis, a Cheektowaga native who is president of the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers.
De Federicis said the union has never called for such an action, but it had no choice.
"Because both Ford and the Division of State Police has failed our members, one of whom has already burned to death in his trooper’s car, we are advising our members to take every last precaution to save their own lives," he said.
He also called on his members to reject what he called the State Police’s "illegal imposition" of traffic ticket quotas. The union has several grievance procedures pending over its claim that the State Police has ticket quotas that must be met. The State Police has long denied any such quotas.
De Federicis accused the State Police of "dragging their feet" on the Crown Victoria controversy.
State Police officials sought to downplay the PBA’s threats.
"We are confident that State Police members understand that highway safety is one of our primary missions and they will continue to perform their duties in accordance with the highest standards," said Lt. Glenn Miner, a State Police spokesman.
Safety of troopers "is our No. 1 priority," Miner said. He added that a panel examining ways to improve the safety of the agency’s patrol cars is already in place and includes union representatives.
Ford denied any problems unique to the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, which is used by about 80 percent of police departments.
"We don’t feel that the vehicle is an issue. The unique usage of the vehicle, the way police use it, puts police in much higher risk situations," said Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley.
She said a retrofitting program begun by Ford using plastic shields will reduce the risk of fuel tank punctures, but that no technology exists to withstand some of the high-speed crashes that happen with police cars.
The PBA, which says the State Police has about 800 of the cars in its fleet, was somewhat vague about what it was calling its members to do.
In a document provided to The Buffalo News, the PBA said troopers should be "limiting traffic stops" and avoiding "non-emergency traffic stops." A non-emergency, the PBA said, could be considered pulling someone over for a speeding violation. But the PBA head stressed that emergency situations will be responded to as always.
"If someone is in an accident or stranded, we are going to help them," De Federicis said.
Asked if the union was calling for a slowdown in ticket writing for things like speeding on the Thruway, the union chief said: "No. If there is a safe way to properly enforce the law, then do it."
If there is not?
"We want them to take steps to protect their lives," he said.
The union says 16 officers nationwide have died since 1983 in Crown Victoria cars from fires caused by rear-end explosions. In December, State Trooper Robert Ambrose was killed on a Yonkers highway when his patrol car caught fire after being struck from behind. Ambrose’s family is suing Ford.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:
By MICHAEL GORMLEY
Associated Press Writer
June 13, 2003, 3:38 PM EDT
ALBANY, N.Y. — The union representing state police called on troopers to avoid making "non-emergency traffic stops" on high-speed roads so they do not expose themselves to the risk of fiery rear-end collisions.
A memo to troopers and supervisors posted Thursday by the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers said "We cannot sit idly by and allow `business as usual’ to jeopardize our members’ lives."
The union believes the Crown Victoria Police Interceptors used by most patrolling troopers are prone to fiery explosions when hit from behind by vehicles going at high speed. Police groups have counted 16 deaths of officers nationwide in such accidents involving Police Interceptors since 1983.
"We are urging all our members to put their safety first and reject any illegal division-imposed ticket quotas," the union directive said.
The union isn’t, however, calling for a work stoppage or a labor job action to limit traffic stops or tickets, said union President Daniel De Federicis. That would be illegal under state law.
"If they have a choice, we don’t want them exposed in the middle of the highway," De Federicis said Friday. He said troopers should try to pull over motorists at rest areas as opposed to along busy highways, where most stops are made.
The memo was prompted by the May deaths of North Carolina and Missouri state police officers when their Police Interceptors caught fire on impact, De Federicis said. He said the vehicles had been retrofitted with shields designed to help avoid the fires from rear-end collisions.
State police said they continue to explore alternative vehicles to the Police Interceptors and other additional safety precautions for the vehicle. They don’t expect any troopers to write fewer tickets or give speeders a pass, state police officials said Friday.
"They will continue to perform their duties in accordance with the highest standards," said Lt. Glenn Miner, state police spokesman. "The safety of our members is our number one priority."
Miner denied that state police have ticket quotas for troopers on road patrols.
"Traffic safety is one of our primary missions and traffic enforcement and education are the primary ways this is accomplished," Miner said.
Last year, New York state Trooper Robert Ambrose was killed on a Yonkers highway when his patrol car was struck from behind. Ambrose’s family is suing Ford for more than $250 million.
A fuel shield retrofit of the state’s fleet of Police Interceptors was completed in January.
Ford denies that Police Interceptors are dangerous or unduly prone to fires in rear-end crashes. A Ford spokeswoman said no design could eliminate the risk of fire in catastrophic high-speed collisions.
State Sen. Nicholas Spano, a Westchester Republican, said Ford officials told him last week they will soon announce a fire-supression system and other safety measures for the cars. He said state police expect to receive "trunk kits" that make sure flares and other potential projectiles don’t shoot into gas tanks upon impact. Spano said state police are also testing fire panels and a bladder system for gas tanks.
"I can understand the frustration for the PBA," Spano said of the union. "It’s a slow, frustrating process."
A 10-month federal probe determined that vehicles with the Crown Victoria’s fuel system involved in a rear crash caught fire 8 percent of the time, compared to 6.3 percent with the fuel system used in the comparable Chevrolet Caprice.
The trooper union directive was first reported Friday by the Albany Times Union and the Ottaway News Service in the Times Herald-Record of Middletown.