About 25 off-duty Harvard Police patrolmen yesterday left a deadlocked negotiating session in police headquarters and stood for an hour and a half outside the Personnel Office in Holyoke Center, demanding that Police Chief David L. Gorski revoke a decision on a new work shift.
Leaders of the patrolmen's union, police administrators and Edward W. Powers, director of employee relations, then negotiated in the Personnel Office while policemen waited in the hallway outside until the union's president, Lawrence Letteri, came out and told them they had won a postponement of the new shift.
The new shift--extending from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. and designed to put more police on duty at high-crime times--would have gone into effect on Sunday.
Gorski posted assignments to the late and unpopular shift Tuesday evening, in apparent violation of a clause in the patrolmen's contract that says an opening on a shift must be posted before anyone is assigned to it.
Gorski said yesterday he will now post the new shift for a week, and then assign people to it if no one volunteers.
The angry policemen in the Personnel Office hallway--about half the force's patrolmen--seemed to be upset about more than just a new shift. Their action came at a time when negotiations on a new contract for the patrolmen are at a standstill and many patrolmen strongly disapprove of the direction of the force since Gorski took office earlier this year.
Many patrolmen say Gorski has con-centrated his efforts too much on scientific administrative methods and staffing in the headquarters, while local crime demands that more foot patrolmen be hired.
"He's hiring more men in the office when crime's going on in the streets," William McNamara, a patrolman standing in the Personnel hallway, said.
Asked about the patrolmen's complaints yesterday, Gorski said, "I'd rather be judged on the basis of performance. Is crime up? The answer is no."
"The patrolmen objected to the proposed new shift because it involves working so late at night. There is already a 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift, but Gorski added the seven-to-three shift to get a greater concentration of manpower late at night.
"The burglars have better hours than we do now," Patrolman Thomas Mercier said.
After the negotiating session, Powers said he does not consider the issue of the size and working hours of the force within his province, saying, "that's something the chief determines."
When the patrolmen saw Gorski's shift assignments Tuesday night--assignments that included the seven-to-three shift-- they organized yesterday morning's negotiating session with Gorski.
That session lasted from 8 a.m. until about 11 a.m., when, after a deadlock, the patrolmen decided to take their case to Powers.
Gorski said in defense of the new shift assignments that he and the patrolmen had discussed them three months ago so he had assumed he could forego strict adherence to the contract.
He met with the patrolmen again yesterday afternoon to discuss shift policy, but the contract negotiations remain deadlocked, three months after the patrolmen's contract expired.
"They want a professional ball team," Patrolmen Earle Dubier said, "but they want it on little league pay.