APP comments: M’town Police and the Super Bowl

The Topic of the Day in the Opinion section of today’s Asbury Park Press involves the Middletown Police Dept. and its apparent abuse of sick time on Super Bowl Sunday.

In a letter to the APP, president of the Middletown Superior Officers Association R. Craig Weber comments that sick time was not “abused” on Feb. 3, Super Bowl Sunday.

In response to a March 6 article (“Middletown to curtail ovetime”) accusing seven officers of calling out “sick for duty” on Super Bowl Sunday, he writes that nothing could be further from the truth.

“Not a single police officer or dispatcher called out sick for any of the three shifts Feb. 3,” he said.

There were, however, several schedule changes made in advance for that day. “Any police overtime incurred on that date was a result of officers availing themselves of normal leave time, such as vacation comp and personal time,” Weber continued. “No one used or abused sick leave. All of the leave time was scheduled in advance and proper staffing levels were maintained.”

The ultimate point here: No matter how you slice it, M’town officers cut work for the Super Bowl. In my opinion, this is American society at its finest.

I agree with Weber when he goes on to say that the officers earn their comp and personal time, just like every other working person. And I’m sure they were not the only ones who made their work schedules based around the Super Bowl that week.

I even requested off that day at B&N. So shoot me.

What bothers me is that Weber makes it seem as though the officers’ actions were justified and proper because their absence on Super Bowl Sunday was an earned personal day.

No, I’m pretty sure no one “earns” the right to watch the Super Bowl. It is inherent in American culture. Football is understood to take precedent above all else when in season.

I’m also relatively confident that if the officers were not given the day off, as per request, they would have indeed called out sick. (That was my plan, at least.)

So in the end, there should be criticism of the M’town Police Dept., but not because officers “called out” or “requested off” (or whatever Weber wants to call it) on Super Bowl Sunday.

The fact that the department is making it seem as though these things don’t exist or that there were no moral questions involved is far more important than just who was at work.

To read more of Weber’s response, click the headline.

PHOTO: Lincoln Financial Field, where the Philadelphia Eagles nest. Taken from the best seats in the stadium during the home opener of the past 2007/08 season. (Melissa L. Gaffney)
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