Press Release

         Council 82, NYS Law Enforcement Officers Union
        American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO
                        63 Colvin Avenue, Albany, NY 12206
                      Phone :(518) 489-8424 Fax :(518) 489-8430

For immediate release:                         Contact:
December 14, 2006                              Kathy McCormack: (518) 489-8424

      Understaffing Real Concern to State Park Police
         The union representing New York State Park Police Officers, Local 2796,
Council 82, AFSCME, AFL-CIO are extremely concerned with a decline in patrol
coverage in our state parks. This comes at the same time that their duties have drastically
increased. Over the past several months, the union has compiled data for 2002-2005 from
the Office of Parks and Recreation (OPR) through FOIL requests that supports this. The
information collected from the agency included data on the decline in the patrol hours of
park police officers, the addition of park acreage and the increase in park patronage. A
survey was also sent by the union to our officers regarding what they were experiencing
in the field.

        The net loss in officer patrol hours over this period is the equivalent of losing 85
officers on patrol forty hours a week for one year. Over 90% of those officers surveyed
said that they believe that staffing is at insufficient levels to conduct adequate police
coverage and maintain safety in our state parks. This has created a safety issue not only
for officers, but the people who visit our state parks.

        Mike Koupesh, Local 2796 President said, “Since 9/11 our duties have increased.
A number of the buildings, structures, facilities and waterways in state parks have been
classified as potential homeland security targets. Due to a patrol shortage, the OPR is
relying on outside police departments to handle calls that normally would be handled by
park police officers. Our agency is straining patrols from municipal and state police
departments to handle our calls. A large number of state parks do not have 24-hour
patrol. Often one officer has to cover numerous counties, in some instances nine counties
on a given tour. Due to a significant cut in patrol hours, the presence of homeland
security targets, added parks and park property to patrol, our officers are stretched thin.
        Last April, the union met with representatives of OPR regarding our concerns
about the loss of patrol hours and the implications it has on park safety and our ability to
the job the taxpayers want us to do. As of today, we have not heard back from them.
Since 2004, we have repeatedly asked the agency to provide a formula for how they
determine staffing and what the exact staffing for our members is. They have consistently
failed to engage in any meaningful dialogue.”

        In 2004, the State Comptroller completed a report on state park police staffing at
OPR. The report titled, Hiring, Training and Deployment of State Park Police Officers
and Rangers, 2004-S-4, stated “…we asked officials at Park Police Headquarters if public
safety positions were allocated to the regions on the basis of a strategic statewide
deployment plan. The officials stated they had not developed such a plan.” It further
stated “All the commanders interviewed told the Comptroller’s Office that they needed
more officers to properly cover their regions. They noted that some parks are not
patrolled at all, and further noted that many calls are handled by other police forces
because Park Police Officers are responding to other calls or too far away to respond in a
timely manner.”

        Currently, the New York State Park System has over 61 million visitors a year.
The average daily population is approximately 167,123. This breaks down to one officer
for every 763 visitors. In Buffalo, for example, there is roughly one officer for every 190
visitors and in Syracuse, one officer for every 310 visitors.

        James F. Lyman, Council 82 President added, “These officers patrol our state
parks and proudly protect the citizens who use them. This issue needs to be addressed so
that they can better safeguard the public.”

Council 82 represents Police Officers, County Deputy Sheriffs, County Correction Officers and
Law Enforcement Officers throughout New York State.


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