Diversity within ranks aim to firefighter legislation
To the Editor:
Mr. Elliot, thank you for being so concerned about R.I. public safety officers’ feelings, but unfortunately you have the facts of Rep. Bennett’s legislation completely wrong. You obviously based your letter on the “Go Local Editorial,” which also was factually wrong. Were you at the State House hearing on the bill or the day it had discussion on the house floor? At the hearing on the legislation, not one elected official from the state or municipal government or even any organization testified in opposition to the bill.
Rep. Bennett’s bill does not “freeze” (in your words) any Rhode Islander out from becoming a Fire Fighter or Police Officer nor does it divert taxpayer money out of state. It would bring more money into the state. Also, present police officers and fire fighters are in no way affected by this legislation, especially Warwick.
Both the audio for the hearing and the video for the floor vote on the bill are available on the General Assembly’s web site, I challenge you to find during the hearing or floor vote where Rep. Bennett uttered the words “the most qualified applicants available are not from Rhode Island” as you stated in your letter. That one is just made up.
Not that you seem to care about facts, but we will tell you the reason the state fire fighters supported the legislation. Our recruitment numbers are way down from what we are used to seeing. We believe there are several factors for this, changes to our hours, pension changes forcing us to work into our sixties and the increasing dangers of the job, etc.
Because of the recruitment decline, we are also seeing a decline in our recruitment of women and minorities. Diversity in the fire service is an issue we feel strongly about and one we embrace by working with the city and fire administration to improve. For our part, increasing the number of applicants in the future and improving diversity is the reason we support the legislation, pure and simple. So who’s playing politics?
We can disagree on issues but don’t write things that just aren’t true.
One thing you can never do Mr. Elliott, accuse Rep. Bennett of putting politics above the hard working people of Warwick that he represents. We’ve seen him in action at the state house fighting for the “little guy.” If you truly are concerned about working class people maybe you should visit the State House some day and watch Rep. Bennett in action, you might find you have a lot in common.
Warwick Firefighters Union Local 2748