JUDGE REJECTS ATTEMPT TO REVERSE TRANSFERS OF 46 POLICE OFFICERS - The Buffalo News

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JUDGE REJECTS ATTEMPT TO REVERSE TRANSFERS OF 46 POLICE OFFICERS

A judge Tuesday rejected a bid by the Buffalo police union to rescind the transfers of 46 officers ranging from rookies to veteran police captains.

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph S. Forma said he couldn't consider the request by the Police Benevolent Association for a restraining order that would reverse the transfers because the union hadn't filed an actual lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the job action, as required under state law.

"I just don't feel I have jurisdiction in this case because nobody is suing anybody here," Forma said.

Neither James W. Schwan, the union's chief attorney, nor Police Lt. Robert Meegan, the union's president, could be reached for comment.

Assistant Corporation Council Stanley J. Sliwa said the state Public Employment Relations Board could order preliminary proceedings within several weeks on the police union's complaint, but could not predict how long the agency will take to resolve the issue.

Sliwa said Forma's decision means the transfers, announced Friday and effective Monday, will remain in effect indefinitely. He disputed the union's contention that Degenhart ignored seniority rights in shifting 16 rookies, 25 veteran officers and five captains.

Seniority "was a factor" considered by Degenhart in charting the transfers, Sliwa said.

Schwan told Forma that the transfers were discriminatory because 11 of the rookies, 13 of the veteran officers and five of the six female officers transferred are black.

He also argued that the transfers will result in a number of officers losing second jobs to supplement their police earnings and will unfairly reduce overtime and court-testimony pay and disrupt vacation schedules.

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