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Easton's Employees May Play Musical Chairs

EASTON, Conn. — As of Friday, the police department's records clerks will no longer sit behind their desks at 700 Morehouse Road. But they might get cozy upstairs, in another department, or across the hall in dispatch.

The Board of Finance voted to reduce the Police Commission's budget by two tiers, which it proposed. The first tier consisted of an administrative personnel and reductions in overtime, gasoline and maintenance. The second tier consisted of the second administrative personnel.

The Police Commission has proposed adding a part-time records clerk position, which the Board of Finance will discuss at its July 5 meeting.

On Thursday, the clerks met with their union to discuss the situation. First Selectman Thomas Herrmann said senior members in the union can "bump" the more junior members if their position is eliminated. This could mean moving one of the records clerks to dispatch or to another department within the town.

"The more senior member must be able to assume the position without further training," said Herrmann, who said the senior member must interview with the department head before taking the position.

Matt Caldwell, a dispatcher, received his pink slip Thursday at 4 p.m. — eight hours after his last shift. Caldwell started working part time in Easton in January 2010 and switched to full time in September.

"I don't know how many people will ultimately be displaced," said Herrmann. There are currently openings in the tax collector's office as well as parks and recreation, he said.

Joanne Benson, one of the records clerks, wrote in a letter in April that without this department, "the liability will certainly increase for the town."

"It is easy to say that the dispatchers or officers could do the work. But speaking as a dispatcher for 22 years, it cannot be done," she wrote. "There is much liability for a dispatcher to leave their position where they cannot hear the phone or the police radio for any period of time."

Benson said the records clerks are trained in freedom of information, the uniformed crime-reporting program and the national incident-based reporting system and the national crime information center.

Do you think the town is right to eliminate the records clerks' positions? Do you think senior employees should "bump" the junior employees? Leave your comments below.

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