By Tim O’Meilia
South Palm Beach police officers are following the lead of those in neighboring Manalapan and will join the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association.
The town’s five rank-and-file officers voted unanimously last month to have the PBA as their collective bargaining unit, the first union in the town’s 52-year
Mayor Martin Millar, a retired police officer and firefighter, said he expects the first thing the union will ask for is more officers, something the mayor said he will support.
The Town Council last month reduced the force from 10 to eight in the budget year that began Oct. 1. One slot has been unfilled for about a year and an officer was fired last month. The police chief, captain and lieutenant are not included in the union.
Millar was the only council member to oppose the budget, partly because of the police cuts and partly because he wanted a smaller budget to reduce taxes.
Millar questioned Police Chief Roger Crane about the diminished force. “It would be nice to have the extra officers to have the nights covered by two officers,” the chief said.
He juggles the schedule, using the police captain and lieutenant to make sure two are on duty until midnight. “So far it’s been working out,” he said.
“We have as much protection and backup as we need but if you want to add a ninth guy, I’ll take him,” Crane said.
It’s likely the town will hire a labor attorney to deal with any proposals made by the union.