Saratoga County

Schenectady police union official Hamilton to go back to his police duties

By the end of the month, police Lt. Robert Hamilton should be back at work.

By the end of the month, police Lt. Robert Hamilton should be back at work.

For 5 1⁄2 years, Hamilton has taken nearly every day off to work as the police union’s president. His absence forced the department to create another lieutenant position — essentially paying two men for one job. By contract, the city had to keep paying Hamilton’s full $70,410 salary no matter how many days he took off for union business.

But all of that will soon be over. The new contract restricts the number of union days that the entire department can take each year.

The department now gets just 360 union days to use each year. The nine union leaders meet once monthly, using up 108 of those days; the rest must be saved for grievances, negotiations and other contract matters.

If the union president were to continue with tradition and take the year off, using 220 or more days, there would be no time left for the rank-and-file to report grievances.

Technically, it would still be possible for the union president to take the entire year off, but Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said he is certain it will never happen again.

“I am not pretty sure — I know so,” he said.

As recently as this week, he believed Hamilton might stay out of work until September, when the union holds its next election. Hamilton has said he will not run; his second vice president, Jeremy Pace, is considered the likely replacement.

Hamilton’s first vice president, Mark LaViolette, is retiring at the end of June.

Bennett said Hamilton did not return to work as soon as the new contract was signed in April because he was cataloguing years of agreements between the union and the department brass.

The memorandums of understanding should be added to the contract so that they are easily accessible, Bennett said.

He wants to give every officer a bound book of the contract with all of the MOUs, which detail rules that go beyond the language of the contract.

He said Hamilton might spend months on that job.

But on Thursday he discussed the matter with Hamilton, he said.

Hamilton agreed to come back to work “in the very near future,” Bennett said.

He added that Hamilton would definitely be working the lieutenant’s desk by the end of the month.

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