By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor

Mike Hawkins has spent most of his career as a MAP member and representative, so it seemed a natural fit to take over as the new MAP Executive Board President when former President Rich Heins announced his retirement in December.

“Rich Heins did a great job,” Hawkins said. “When there was a vacancy and Fred reached out to see if I was interested, I felt I served enough time on the current board to step up and help out.”

A Trenton Police Lieutenant and member of Trenton Inspectors and Lieutenants Association, Hawkins began his law enforcement career at Gibraltar Police in 2000. He joined Trenton Police in 2001, becoming a K9 Officer and serving as local police union President for 10 years. He was voted onto MAP’s Executive Board in 2011, taking over the Treasurer’s position when a co-worker retired. He was later voted Executive Board Vice President.

“I replaced Rich Lyons when he was getting ready to retire. He was the Treasurer of MAP,” Hawkins said. “We (Trenton Police, Inspectors and Lieutenants) have been with MAP for as long as I’ve been here, and I’ve been here for 18 years.”

He’s felt honored to fill vacancies on the Executive Board, given all the Union has done for him and his co-workers. “When we went to the Defined Contribution pension system, MAP was a big part of helping us get back into the (Employer paid) pension,” Hawkins said. “We went from Defined Contribution to Defined Benefit and we were one of the only departments in the nation that went back into the pension system through our negotiations.”

Hawkins, 41, said MAP has helped his department by filing arbitrations on their behalf over various issues including pensions. Now he plans to do his part as MAP Board President to increase membership and continue to help members make gains in healthcare, wages and benefits that were cut during the economic downturn. “The issue is recovery from previous years to get them back on track, to make (them) whole,” he said. “As President, one of the main issues is to have MAP grow and gain more groups and become stronger that way. We need to let (departments) know what we can do and what we can offer them.”

Hawkins said it’s important to understand that no matter what the political climate is, Republicans and Democrats can come together locally to benefit their communities. “The most important thing is establishing mutual respect and relationships with your local unit of government,” he said. “Having a mutual respect and relationships with them goes a long way to getting contracts settled.”

The difference between MAP and other unions, he said, is the personal touch they offer members. “Anytime you need MAP, they’re there. They look out for you,” Hawkins said. “They’re not just a big box group. They really do care about you."

"All unions have taken black eyes over the years, but MAP groups have stuck together," he said. "The Reps have always reached out. It’s kind of a family atmosphere.”