SEA's Need to be Protected and Respected
By James Huntley
President, CWA Local 1182
When I first began working in 1982 as a Traffic Enforcement Agents, I worked hand in hand with Sanitation Police and Sanitation Enforcement Agents. We all shared the same goal, to ensure that New York City is safe, clean, and disease-free.
The responsibilities of Sanitation Enforcement Agents (SEAs) cover a lot of territory including recycling, public health, unleashed dogs, vendors, and abandoned vehicles, just to name a few. SEAs monitor compliance and enforce the law so that streets are clean, illegal dumping is prevented, city waste is properly disposed, and garbage from residential and commercial buildings are removed from streets.
Our Agents ensure that the city remains clean and free of disease but while they perform their important roles they are vulnerable to attack and violence. Unlike citizen victims of random crime, SEAs are specifically targeted because of their job. Sanitation Agents are chased by dogs, spat at by angry store owners, and punched while writing tickets.
The City, State, and Federal government is willing to acknowledge the need to protect endangered species, like the Bald Eagle. It is even a felony to attack or kill certain animals. Yet, despite repeatedly being put in harms way while protecting and improving this city, SEA's are denied the protection needed to do their job each day. It's a shame that our dedicated Sanitation Enforcement Agents are not provided the same protections as all others in law enforcement.
We will continue to lobby for legislation that provides respect and security for all our members. CWA Local 1182 commends Senator Kevin Parker for sponsoring S6079 in the Senate and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow for sponsoring A9186 in the assembly. Attacks on sanitation enforcement agents must be treated as a severe crime. We urge the New York Legislature to pass legislation that criminalizes assaults on sanitation enforcement agents.
On May 22, 2010 the members of CWA Local 1182 honored New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly for supporting our legislative agenda that provides additional protection for enforcement agents while on the job. Last year a felony bill had been passed for Traffic Enforcement Agents thanks to the Police Commissioner and the Mayor. Present legislation covering Sanitation Enforcement Agents is now pending in the State Legislature.