More than 70 off-duty cops, their spouses, and about 15 of their kids jammed into the Santa Barbara City Council chambers Tuesday, March 16, as police union chief Sgt. Mike McGrew played an emotionally intense, seven-minute tape: Dispatcher Bridget Moore responding to a call for service for Officer Steven Robles. The motorcycle cop had been struck by a car while on duty and was bleeding through his mouth and nose.
Robles recovered from the incident, which took place several months ago, and attended Tuesday’s meeting, as did Moore. Afterwards, McGrew asked Mayor Helene Schneider for permission to clap for both Moore and Robles. They received a standing ovation and a loud round of applause.
The public display came just as the Police Officers Association prepares for contract negotiations with City Administrator Jim Armstrong. Those negotiations come at a time when Armstrong is asking the Police Department to cut $3 million, in response to a $9 million shortfall to the city’s general fund. Last week, McGrew complained that Armstrong had begun notifying officers that they might be receiving pink slips, as part of a budget tightening process that could see the elimination of as many as 23 positions. To do that while asking for concessions, he said, smacked of “shock and awe tactics.”
This Tuesday, however, McGrew announced that his members have agreed to make unspecified wage and benefit concessions, details of which, he said, would be released next week.