Want to work for a private contractor in Iraq? You get to keep your job here, too.
If you’re a middle aged cop, and you agree to work for a private contractor training Iraqi police in the Middle East, should you be guaranteed your slot on the hometown force when you return?Yes, according to a bill that passed the General Assembly last week.The bill adjusted a measure passed last year, in response to a situation in East Haven, where the police department denied leave for Officer Bob Nappe to work for DynCorp, a corporation hired by the U.S. State Department to train Iraqi police officers. Nappe sued the town, and a judge recently denied East Haven’s motion to dismiss.On the bill, though, state Rep. Michael Lawlor (D-East Haven) said it’s not about your position on the war in Iraq. “I think it was a big mistake. I’ve always felt that way,” he said of the U.S. invasion. But when the government reaches out for help, people should not feel reticent because they think they will lose their job, he said. Civilians should be treated no differently than active military personnel, whose jobs are already protected, Lawlor said.Alternatively, many Republicans voted against the bill, including state Rep. Kevin Witkos (R-Canton), who is a police officer. “You’re leaving your employment to go work for a different employer,” Witkos said, adding that civilian contractors can make up to $125,000 tax-free. “I don’t think it’s fair to a city or town to hold open a position for an indefinite amount of time.“The cost to municipalities could be in the neighborhood of $63,000, according to an analysis by the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, because cities might have to beef up their overtime budget to cover the missing officer. Republicans view that as an unfunded mandate.