President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Dr Warren Blake, says he does not support calls made by one of the sport’s most powerful bodies to reset all world record marks amidst the ongoing doping crisis affecting international track and field.Chairman of UK Athletics, Ed Warner, recently announced a list of suggestions his organisation believes will return credibility to a sport that has been reeling after a doping crisis, which has seen Russia banned after alleged ‘state-sponsored doping’ and former IAAF president Lamine Diack facing criminal investigations, after he was accused of taking a bribe to protect drug cheats.However, Blake was quite clear in his opposition of the proposals, which would of course see the five IAAF world records held by Jamaica removed from the books.Usain Bolt currently holds world record marks in the men’s 100m and 200m, with Jamaica also responsible for the best ever men’s 4x100m and 4x200m times in history. Merlene Ottey also has the best mark in the women’s indoor 200m.”I don’t think that this is a viable or fair suggestion because it would penalise athletes, who have legitimately worked hard and excelled, athletes who have never been under any cloud of suspicion or anything like that, and we in Jamaica, we have a few records that would go as well,” Blake responded when asked for his views on UK Athletics’ suggestion to reset the clock.”I know over time people have wondered about certain records, but I have always been of the position that if nothing has ever been proven against the people in question, no matter what the suspicions are, you can’t do anything about that. We have to accept those records,” Blake added.BOLT’S DETRACTORS”Everybody loves to target Flo-Jo’s (Florence Griffith Joyner) record (10.49 seconds in the women’s 100m) more than any other, but let us say down the years and we look at our own Usain Bolt, his record is similarly way ahead of the competition, granted that he has always been running fast from he was a little kid, but there are doubters in the world that seem to think that Jamaica has some magic potion giving to Bolt, so what do we say to those people?” Blake reasoned.The JAAA president, who himself has had to deal with public scrutiny and failed drugs tests by high-profile Jamaican athletes, underlined his belief that the sport will move forward, while showing his support of IAAF president Seb Coe’s response.”I have looked at the five points outlined by our president and I think there is a lot of merit in those plans,” said Blake.Among other things, Coe has promised to double the anti-doping budget to US$8 million, appoint a new chief executive by the middle of the year, establish a separate integrity unit for athletics before August’s Olympics in Rio and double the current international testing pool of athletes to 1,000.See related story on B4.
“We’re already understaffed. You don’t have enough police officers currently to do the job that is required. It’s going to stretch our resources, and you’re going to lose a lot of very talented individuals with a lot of knowledge and expertise.” Measures have been taken recently by the City Council to boost recruitment and hire new officers to create a 10,000-officer department, a goal set by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. As of January, the LAPD had about 9,475 officers. “The mayor’s plan is to have 10,000 officers in a five-year plan,” said LAPD Cmdr. Kenny Garner, who took over recruiting duties in October 2005. “The 10,000 is doable and it will happen.” The LAPD’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, implemented in May 2002, allows eligible officers to put their retirement payments in interest-earning accounts for a maximum of five years while they continue to work at their regular salary. At the end of the five years, or earlier, they collect the lump-sum retirement savings and begin receiving their pensions. Already stretched thin battling gang violence amid strained recruitment drives, the LAPD will see its chronic officer shortage grow even more acute later this year when a battalion-size group of senior officers leaves the force. Taking with them some 6,375 years of crime-fighting experience, 255 seasoned officers must go under a deferred-retirement program that was designed to keep veteran officers on the job longer. Their departure will hit the specialized ranks, such as homicide and robbery detectives, especially hard, and will come on top of the hundreds of other officers who leave the LAPD through attrition every year. “It’s going to have a dramatic impact on the department doing their job,” said Bob Baker, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the police officers union. Modeled after similar plans in other police agencies, the Los Angeles Police Department’s deferred retirement has allowed the 255 officers leaving by October of this year to stay on years after they might otherwise have retired. The LAPD says the plan is cost-neutral and has kept years of institutional knowledge and expertise on the force. Also, it has bought LAPD brass more time to train replacements. Once-off effect This year’s large number of retirees in the deferred plan is considered a once-off effect, attributed to heavy sign-ups in the initial months of the program. In subsequent years, the LAPD expects deferred-retiree departures to be spread out more than this year and not have such a strong impact on the force. Still, with the police force struggling to reach the mayor’s goal of 10,000 officers, some law enforcement officials are concerned about the experience deficit that will remain when the seasoned officers leave this year. Baker, of the police union, said city officials did not respond fast enough to find a consistent funding source to pay for new officers. “The city squandered the five years. They didn’t put in a good plan,” Baker said. “They didn’t take this seriously, and we find ourselves in the position we are in today.” Until the City Council passed Villaraigosa’s trash-fee hike proposal last year to help finance his and Police Chief William J. Bratton’s plan to add 1,000 new officers, the LAPD lacked a consistent funding source for additional officers, critics say. “What has been frustrating for those of us who have pushed to expand the department for several years was the lack of a dedicated funding source for new officers,” said Councilman Jack Weiss, who heads the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. “Recruiting has to be at the forefront of everybody’s agenda precisely because the drop-off (for the hundreds leaving DROP this year) is so precipitous,” he said. The goal of the deferred-retirement plan was to increase the number of years of service for retiring senior officers from around 27 years to 30 years. At a June 2005 meeting of the Public Safety Committee, the LAPD said a tougher recruitment drive was needed due to hundreds of sworn officers leaving the deferred-retirement program by 2007 and concern over the impact it would have on detective ranks. Meeting hiring goals The City Council approved hiring 720 officers for that fiscal year, but the LAPD hired just 603. For fiscal year 2002-03, the LAPD actually surpassed its new-hire goal when it added 672 new officers, well above the projected 360. But over the next three fiscal years, the department hired just 1,300 officers, about 22 percent fewer than its goal of 1,674. Responding to the impact of the deferred-retirement plan, the City Council is considering an LAPD request to extend to one year from three months the amount of time the police chief can bring retirees back on the force for a maximum of one year. “Generally, we see that a lot of people are leaving,” said Garner, the recruiting coordinator. “The good news is it’s not all at once … (We recognize we’re) losing experience and the chief is taking a look at keeping people in critical positions (through the extension.)” But some officers left to deal with the immediate aftermath of the departure of so many seasoned veterans are concerned. “If we had a thousand guys in the academy, they wouldn’t be worth (anything) for two years,” said Detective Richard Wheeler, who recently took over lead homicide detective duties at the North Hollywood Division from 35-year veteran Mike Coffey, who has left under the deferred-retirement program. “And all the people that are leaving, it ain’t the two-year cops, it’s the Mike Coffeys.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3329160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. 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