WPB police announce protest at SunFest

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Police officers in West Palm Beach are fed up, fired up and planning to take a stand during SunFest.

Wednesday, the Police Benevolent Association announced plans for officer pickets at the entrance to SunFest which begins April 28.

The West Palm officers also said they will not volunteer to work security at the annual downtown mega-event. "Mayor Frankel needs to go and so do the other commissioners," said PBA leader John Kazanjian. "Because guess what? They don't see it. They don't get it."

The union is unhappy with the treatment of officers by the city. Kazanjian says the city has been over-spending while telling officers they should expect a second year of pay and benefit cuts.

"So you can be the lowest paid in the State of Florida, basically, is what they're saying," said Lou Penque, the president of the PBA in West Palm Beach. "We're not taking it any more. Now, we're going to stand up."

"We did not give raises to any employee last year," responded City Administrator Ed Mitchell.  "The management employees took a cut in their compensation. We're tightening our budget in every department, looking at benefits, salaries, everything."

The police union specifically points to the new $30 million waterfront renovation as a symbol of waste in tight budget times. The PBA says the downtown redevelopment money that funded the waterfront project could have been diverted to pay for downtown events which are paid for from the city budget.

City Administrator Mitchell said the city would look at doing that in the future.

While not volunteering for SunFest, the West Palm officers said they will work if ordered to fill the shifts. But, the city says, ordering officers to work means paying time and a half.

City Administrator Mitchell said the police chief is trying to recruit from other departments for the SunFest detail saying the event will be secure.