HARTFORD — Governor Dannel P. Malloy has announced that first responders and other state employees who were significantly involved with the direct response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year will be credited with forty hours of compensatory time under an agreement reached between the state and six unions representing the state employees.
The benefit is intended to recognize the extraordinary nature of the tragedy and that many of these individuals took sick and vacation time to deal with personal matters related to the incident, according to Gov Malloy. The agreement will be submitted to the General Assembly for final approval. If no action is taken, the agreement will take effect after 30 days.
“The men and women directly involved in the response to this horrible tragedy in many cases needed time to recover from the severe nature of what they experienced through simply doing their jobs,” Governor Malloy said on December 4. “This is only one step, but it is important that we recognize the professionals who are there during unimaginable moments of difficulty, and that we continue to support them.”
Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra told The Newtown Bee that town employees were not included as part of the program announced by the governor, and that she was unaware negotiations for compensatory time for state responders was ongoing.
The agreement was reached between the state Office of Labor Relations and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union; the Administrative and Residual Union; District 1199; Connecticut State Police Union; Connecticut State Employees Association; and Connecticut Police and Fire Union. It will also be extended to similarly impacted, non-represented employees.
“This was a crime of unprecedented scope in our state that produced an unprecedented level of trauma for so many who were involved in the response,” Lt Governor Nancy Wyman said. “Crediting these men and women with compensatory time is one way we can thank them for their professionalism and dedication to duty during an event that required them to put their own emotions on hold in order to do their job helping others.”
“We appreciate the efforts of the Malloy Administration to address the tremendous emotional trauma experienced by workers who responded to the Newtown massacre,” said Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano, whose union represents state police dispatchers involved in the emergency response of 12/14. “As we approach the anniversary of this dark day in Connecticut history, we must all keep working together to honor the memories of the courageous children and school employees, and to help the Newtown community continue the healing process.”
“On December 14, 2012, 26 innocent Connecticut families suffered a devastating loss, but through all the pain they have advocated for positive change. These families are a testament to strength, resilience and overcoming unspeakable adversity, while focused on helping other families,” said Andrew Matthews, president of Connecticut State Police Union. “There is no question that everyone’s life changed that day and every state employee who witnessed the tragedy firsthand was in need of the Malloy Administration’s support to cope with the consequences of the horrific scene that may never be erased from their minds.”
Mr Matthews said state troopers, both on and off-duty, “ran towards the face of evil and witnessed one of the most violent events our country has ever seen.”
“As a result, some continue to suffer from the effects,” he added. “We are grateful for Governor Malloy’s leadership, compassion and understanding by approving the agreement and for offering compensatory time, which is necessary for these troopers to continue in the healing process. We are extremely proud of the services our troopers have provided and for those who compassionately consoled the families affected by this senseless act. Connecticut’s response of courage, kindness, leadership and professionalism has been witnessed around the country and the world and should be an example of a state’s solidarity. As we move forward, we will remember those who lost their lives and we will keep them and their families in our thoughts and prayers.”
David Pickus, president of the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199/SEIU, said, “In the long wake of this unspeakable tragedy, this agreement represents an important step towards acknowledging the everyday heroism of the women and men who rush in to protect, rescue, treat, heal and comfort, and in so doing, expose themselves to danger and trauma. Those who provide these vital services for the victims of violence deserve our support as well as our gratitude.”
“The senseless act of violence that ended the lives of 26 innocent victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 forever scarred the lives of those who responded, assisted and witnessed the aftermath of this horrific carnage,” said Glenn Terlecki, president of Connecticut Police and Fire Union. “The brave members of the Connecticut Police and Fire Union experienced life-changing sorrow, remorse and guilt. Police officers are sworn to protect and keep safe those that they serve. Unlike many other occupations, when an event occurs that denies police officers the ability to carry out their oaths, an insufferable sense of personal loss occurs.
Mr Terlecki said that the first responders, many of whom are parents themselves, must live the rest of their lives with irrevocable memories of this tragedy.
“As difficult as it may be, they will carry on and do their best to defend all that is good and defeat all that is evil, for they are police officers,” he added.
“CSEA appreciates the recognition given to our members by Governor Malloy for their response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” said Robert D. Rinker, executive director of CSEA, which represents the State Police lieutenants and captains as well as the police inspectors for the Division of Criminal Justice. “Our members did not ask or expect this benefit, it is part of their job.
“Special recognition should go out to Lieutenant J. Paul Vance who managed the press conferences to keep our citizens and the world properly informed of the events, and to our State Police supervisors and our Police Inspectors that conducted this criminal investigation into this horrific event,” Mr Rinker continued. “These men and women represent the best of public service that we often take for granted as residents of Connecticut.”
Joseph Pietchta, president of the Administrative and Residual Union, said, “We’re very thankful for all of the work that the governor did on this and thankful for the people in the union who responded on this horrible day. It’s a very trying matter and hopefully this will help them in their efforts at coming to peace with the situation.”