WHAT BENNY WILL DO
As a proud Correction Officer protecting the great city of New York, Benny will advocate for better pay, safer working conditions, better HMD policy, and expedited grievances. Not only is it time for radical transformation, but it’s time to step boldly into the future.
The frequency and severity of assaults against Correction Officers is at an all-time high. Despite the fact that the inmate population has decreased by 50% since 1998, increased violent assaults by inmates have continued to soar to new heights. Being inside a New York City jail is more dangerous than ever. As the President of COBA, Benny’s first priority will be to increase the safety of our jails for both Correction Officers and the vast majority of inmates who are also victimized.
The Department has diminished the ability of Correction Officers to use reasonable force to protect themselves during their tours inside the jails. A proven deterrent, genetec video is improperly used by the administration and department. As a result, Correction Officers are harshly disciplined without a proper investigation initiated after a use of force occurred.
Additionally, the reclassification of inmates has led to dangerous policies, allowing security risk groups to unite together - verbally abusing and assaulting Correction Officers daily. In sum - these policies are putting all of our lives at risk. As President, Benny will aggressively fight to dismantle "gang affiliation houses", increase tactical security searches throughout every facility, advocate for immediate increase surcharges for inmate disciplinary infraction, and limit meaningful privileges away from inmates who deviate from the rules. These initiatives are a start and the goal is to allow the Correction Officers to effectively enforce policy while gaining compliance, ultimately rebuilding respect and structure in the facilities.
"The lack of consequences for assaults against Correction Officers has only served to embolden inmates. In the last two Management Reports by the Mayor, serious injuries caused by inmates assaulting staff members increased by 75 percent in 2018 and 37 percent in 2019."-Benny Boscio
As President of COBA, Benny will fight to end incident downgrading. A crime that’s committed in jail must be treated the same as any other crime committed in the streets. He will enact innovative solutions to reduce violence against Correction Officers by taking meaningful privileges away from inmates, expediting the re-arrest process and holding the Department accountable to enact real deterrents and consequences for violence against Correction Officers.
I'll be rolling out my full Safety Platform over the next week. I'm proud to announce my topics, below.
PUTTING CO NEEDS ABOVE BUREAUCRACY
Over the last few years, I have seen the DOC become incentivized to punish Officers-instead of focusing on the unruly and dangerous behavior of inmates. In order for us to do our jobs correctly, we need to know that DOC values our lives and our safety. Right now, our acting President is failing to direct COBA to fully advocate on behalf of CO needs.
As COBA President, I will streamline the uniform voucher process so that when a splashing occurs, an investigation can be conducted forthwith. I have already been working on a class action grievance because of DOC’s failure to protect us, and I will continue to pursue this when elected.
Also, why doesn’t every Officer have his or her own gas mask? Don’t we deserve at least that much. When that alarm sounds, we should not have to worry about whether the mask we grab has been properly cleaned from previous use— especially in the midst of the deadly Coronavirus. This is an expense that DOC should be covering without a question. It’s a no-brainer to have our own gas masks. We deserve peace of mind when using these masks multiple times a day. Anything less is UNACCEPTABLE!
ADVOCATE FOR ALTERNATIVE INMATE HOUSING PLAN
According to the (rules), inmates shall be housed according to classification. Several years ago, the DOC began ignoring that rule in favor of housing inmates by gang affiliation. Every CO knows that this has been a disaster. In an effort to reduce inmate on inmate violence, the Department sacrificed the safety of men and women in uniform, by allowing gangs to build armies, and then turn their violence towards us. It is no wonder that assaults on COs are up significantly.
The sad reality is that jails are becoming less and less safe. And now, the Mayor and DOC are engaged in a hasty plan to close Riker’s Island. This was done right under the nose of our current acting President, who did nothing to fight back, protect us; nothing to preserve our jobs, our safety, or our security. And that’s a shame and embarrassment.
As President, I will be advocating for and will be working daily toward a safer housing plan. That plan will include maintaining, and even increasing current Correction Officer staff levels. With Bail Reform and jail closures, this is an ideal opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. I plan on doing so by ensuring that COs become safer by having greater Officer to inmate ratios. The acting President let them take our jails, but I will not allow DOC to endanger us further by taking Officers out of their uniforms and otherwise robbing us of our dignity.
I am inviting all COs to send their comments to me directly about the closure so that I can compile them, and make our collective voices heard. I am fully aware that there is strength in numbers, and I will not allow them to try to divide and conquer us.
As COBA President, I will demand that DOC return to housing by classification immediately. I have already filed a grievance on this very matter that is awaiting dates to go to Arbitration. At the very least, the Department should be required to fix all inoperable and broken cell doors immediately. It is unacceptable that our current acting President allows this type of disrespect to continue. Cell doors must be repaired without further delay. The men and women of this Department deserve to be able to do their jobs daily without fearing for their lives. The timeline for fixing these doors needs to be accelerated.
EXPAND BENEFIT OFFERINGS
Under the current administration, negotiations with the department have been conducted in secrecy with no accountability. Weak and ineffective negotiating tactics have left Correction Officers in the dark, resulting in unsafe working conditions, a severe lack of benefits, and a longer grievance process. With the excessive price of prescription drugs and the drastically diminishing retiree benefits, our Correction Officers are left with far too little after giving so much.
This will not be tolerated under a Boscio administration. As President, Benny will exercise transparency and honesty in all negotiations. He will fight for equal pay with other uniformed service members of the City, safer working conditions, better HMD policy, and an expedited grievance process. Benny will lead a new era of active engagement and aggressive negotiation with the interests of Correction Officers first and foremost.
OVERHAUL DISCIPLINARY MEASURES
As President, Benny will seek to put an end to unfair disciplinary procedures and excessive penalties. The rights of Correction Officers have been abused by the Department. Suspensions and terminations are through the roof.
These arbitrary and excessive disciplinary actions are unacceptable. Benny will fight to replace heavy-handed punishments with fair disciplinary measures. Under his leadership, he will negotiate with the Department for more corrective interviews and a reduction in the number of vacation days taken away. Time off is critically important for maintaining the physical and mental well-being of our Correction Officers. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
INCREASE EDUCATION & COMMUNICATION
Knowledge is power. As a union, we have failed to educate our members. Members need to have a clear understanding of departmental policies. It’s time to get rid of antiquated operations and bring more innovative ideas to our membership. Benny believes that by exposing Correction Officers to more knowledge, they will have more confidence in performing their job. This means they will also be equipped to better represent themselves.
Under Benny’s leadership, Correction Officers will be exposed to more resources. Investing in seminars, mental help, post-traumatic stress programs, career transitioning, child-care services, and retirement preparation is key to uniting and strengthening our union. For Benny, transparency is crucial. Correction Officers must be informed on the facts, including up-to-date information at all times.
Benny will also fight to reverse the stigma surrounding Correction Officers. It’s time to tell the real story and introduce a new era - one defined by communication that paints a positive picture of our brothers and sisters in uniform. Benny believes that by being active in the community and pursuing more media outreach, Correction Officers will climb their way to the top and show our strength - just like our members deserve.
ADDRESS NEEDS BEYOND THE BADGE
Benny is devoted to establishing programs and resources that address the needs of Correction Officers outside of wearing the uniform. Working long hours in a demanding environment leaves little room for our devoted men and women to take care of themselves and their families. The union should be doing everything in its power to facilitate healthier lifestyles for Correction Officers, so they can focus properly when on duty and be there for their families when they’re off duty.
Benny plans to expand legal assistance, reduce child care costs, provide continuing education counseling, and offer financial literacy classes to address topics like increasing retirement income, purchasing a home, and investing wisely. In addition, he will create programs for stress management and mental health. With the extremely stressful nature of the job, Benny recognizes how important it is to help his fellow Correction Officers both in and out of uniform.
Elevate Retirees' Voices
For far too long, I've watched the retired members of COBA stand on the outside looking in. These men and women served amicably for decades, and are a valuable resource for all current members of the Department. It's time we elevate their voices back to where they belong.
When I am elected President of COBA, I will convene quarterly meetings of retirees. I want to know how the decisions we are making, and how the policies being implemented will work or not work from their perspective. So many of us have considered so many of them mentors while they were active in the Department. We need to hear from them now, too.