Sunday, October 28, 2012

What the Bombardier strike is costing taxpayers

By Michael Schwanke KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
October 25, 2012

(WICHITA, Kan.)—  A viewer asked FactFinder 12 who’s paying for police officers to monitor the on-going strike at Bombardier Learjet.

“We're looking at safety of strikers and those going to work,” says Wichita Police Captain Rusty Leeds.

Leeds says there are two officers and a supervisor at Bombardier at all times.  Two more officers are added during the busy morning hours.

He says the patrols cost about $2,300 a day, but points out that it’s already budgeted money.  No overtime is paid and the officers would be working otherwise.

He says the officers are pulled from normal duties which include community policing and the drug and gang unit.

“There's a cost to everything. We're taking them away from the possibility of another type of service,” says Leeds.

He says police are there primarily to keep traffic moving and to provide traffic control.  The strike has reduced turning options on Tyler and has slowed traffic in the area.  Union members have to cross Tyler to get to the strike line and drivers have to cross the line to get into the plant.

Leeds says there are also other businesses affected.

Union workers and others who use the road mostly support the police presence.

“They just want safety on the line,” says union member Donna Johnson.

Police say while emotions can run high during strikes, officers have only dealt with minor traffic issues so far.

“That's not what we're all about,” says Johnson.

"Things have been civil, but we're there to know what's going on and we can resolve it quickly rather than reacting quickly," says Leeds.

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