All Posts, The Way I See It|

Like it or not, for better or worse, we are different…police officers and firefighters have much different jobs than those in the general public. Those of us who have retired after many years of service on the streets of Providence, have seen many things that family and friends couldn’t even imagine.

From the moment we raised our right hands to swear to protect and serve the taxpayers of Providence we were expected to be held to a higher standard than the average citizen. For most of us this was completely acceptable as those who aspire to careers in public safety usually hold themselves to a higher standard already. The problem begins when the general public, politicians and the news media holds us to that standard in the way we act but doesn’t afford us the same higher standard in the way they view us. We have been demonized over the past several years.

It’s never reported that, “a Warwick man was charged with DUI…”, it’s reported that, “a Providence firefighter (or police officer) was charged…”

I believe that it’s time to take our good name and reputation back. People know nothing about us unless we inform them of the positive things we do, and have done, in the community. The positive things are rarely reported, whereas anything that casts a bad light on us is blown up in the headlines. President Johnston mentioned at our last meeting that the general public, as well as many politicians and news people, believe that retired Providence police officers and firefighters are all collecting tax free pensions in the neighborhood of $100K when the fact is that most of us are collecting fully taxed pensions closer to $35 – $50K per year.

He’s begun an attempt to change the public perception from that of widely believed misinformation to one where we are judged by the facts. This is only done by putting forth the correct information. We are not afraid of the facts. We have earned our pensions, our benefits and our proud reputations through years of dedicated and noble service. We shouldn’t sit silently while those who are misinformed, or those who would deliberately lie, drag our reputations through the muck. We need to fight back with the truth.

When you hear someone say that all retired Providence police officers and firefighters are collecting tax free disability pensions don’t just let it slide, tell them that this is no longer the case and hasn’t been over the last 20 years. When you hear someone state that we all get $100K pensions tell them that the reality is that most are between $35 – $50K and fully taxed. Remember that when they denigrate your brothers or sisters they are denigrating you also. If you don’t stand up to them in defense of your brother or sister in their minds you are acknowledging that their accusations are true regarding all of us.

I intend to begin, once again, a defense of Providence police officers and firefighters. This time with my focus on our retirees. I have taken hits from our departmental leaders, our political leaders and the media before but as long as I’ve defended myself, and us, with facts they can’t silence the truth.

Until next month
Stay safe…and healthy!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the monthly commentary “The Way I See It” are Tom Kenney’s and not necessarily those of The Providence Police & Firefighters Retirement Association.

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