FOP Free College Benefit

The Board of Trustees of the Fraternal Order of Police has approved a great new benefit for our members and their families. FREE COLLEGE!

Members of the FOP and their spouse, their children and their grandchildren can earn a community college education online, simply as a benefit of membership in the Fraternal Order of Police. There is no cost, and no need to dig out of your own pocket to enroll online in Eastern Gateway Community College, a public, non-profit college in Ohio. Your academy training and law enforcement training may qualify for credits as well!

You can get more information, and even enroll in EGCC through the FOP’s Free College Benefit, at www.FOPFreeCollege.org. Interested students must complete an application to EGCC, as well as submit the Free Application for Federal Student aid and apply any grants to the tuition and fees charged by EGCC. The next quarter at Eastern Gateway Community College begins on January 17th with an enrollment deadline of January 10th, so do not wait too long to take advantage of this great new benefit!

Please go to www.facebook.com/NationalFraternalOrderofPolice and share the post about this tremendous benefit. Please also share this email with your FOP Brothers and Sisters and with your law enforcement contacts to help spread the word about this great new benefit of membership.

We hope this new benefit of membership helps our local lodges attract new members and reward our existing members. This is just one more reason to be a member of the best law enforcement organization in the country!

Chuck Canterbury

President, National Fraternal Order of Police

 

FOP Lodge #4 Tumblers are Available

mugs

These tumblers were a big hit at this years FOP golf tournament and we have received many requests for more. Because of so many requests we have ordered and received a limited supply just in time for Christmas. We have 20 & 32 ounce Hercules Tumblers available here at the lodge office for $10 (20 oz) and $15 (32 oz).

Baltimore County Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees Election Results

On November 7, 2016 the results of the election for positions on the Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees for the next 4 year term beginning in December were announced.

There were six active members nominated for two positions. All County employees who are members of the ERS are eligible to vote:

David Rose            931
Mick Day               801
John Ripley              746
Whitney Tantleff    400
Graceann Rehbein  216
Vishnubhai Desai   145

There were two people nominated for one retired member. All retired county members of the ERS are eligible to vote:

Cole Weston   1,653
Ed Adams           1,051

Bold type denotes the winners who will sit as members for the next 4 years

 

Donation Options for Strebe Family

Our family is overwhelmed with all of the love and support we’ve received over the past few days. We will never be able to thank all of you but we truly do appreciate everything. A lot of people have reached out to me for ways to help donate and there have also been a lot of fundraisers started. I set up this email account as a way to have all of the information in one place. The below options have all been verified by us (the Strebe family) and will be updated as needed.

Mailing Address for Cards and/or Donations: John Strebe PO Box 1001 Salem, MO 65560

Hospital Mailing Address for Cards, Stuffed Animals, Mylar Balloons, & Care Packages. (NO latex balloons or flowers):
If you have questions on what care package items are needed, feel free to send me an additional email.
Children’s Hospital of St. Louis
7th Floor PICU
Patient’s Name & Room Number  (Kirsten is #14 and Elias is # 15)
1 Children’s Place
St. Louis, MO 63110

PayPal Donations (Friends & Family Option Only Please):
Please reply to the message if you’d like the PayPal email address and your relationship with us. I will not be making that public as an extra step of security. At this time we do NOT have a StrebeStrong PayPal account.

GoFundMe Donations link (All updates will be posted here as well):
https://www.gofundme.com/strebe-family-expenses-2w3xmvpn

PayPal Donations (Friends & Family Option Only Please):
Please reply to the message if you’d like the PayPal email address and your relationship with us. I will not be making that public as an extra step of security. At this time we do NOT have a StrebeStrong PayPal account.

Strebe Strong Wrist Bands:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1824151007829563/
Please email your order to Ashleigh Layton at StrebeStrongWristbands@gmail.com
Include your name, your address, how many wristbands you would like to order and what shipping method you would like to use. I will email you your order number, total due and a link to the Go Fund Me Strebe Strong Wristbands page for you to make payment. Please DO NOT make payment on this page unless you have received an email from me with an order number. NOTE: THIS link is a different link ONLY for wristband, DO NOT pay on the GO Fund me Strebe Family Expenses page

Purple or Orange Strebe Strong T-Shirts with their names:
Knights Kustom Apparel
404 West 4th Street
Salem, MO 65560
Phone: (573) 453-4676
Youth-XLG – $15
2XL – $17
3XL – $19
4XL – $20
Shipping $2 per shirt
Orders & Money Order Payments can be mailed to the address above or sent via PayPal to knightskustomapparel@gmail.com Please include your name, shipping address, phone number, tshirt size, and color.

Strebe Strong Thin Blue Line T-Shirts:
Black shirt (white text)
Adult SM to XL = $20 plus $5 shipping
Adult 2XL and Up = $22 plus $5 shipping
Youth SM to XL = $20 plus $5 shipping

T-Shirt Ordering Instructions:
1. Please send an email to: aboutitallpa@gmail.com
2. Include your NAME, SHIP TO ADDRESS, PHONE #, EMAIL
3. Quantity and Sizes
4. Send a Payment via PayPal to aboutitallpa@gmail.com
Prayer/Message Book:
As some of you know, we have a guest book at the hospital for all of the visitors to write in. I will also be creating another message book for them for those unable to visit or those who are but want to add to this book as well. Please email all messages to StrebeStrong@gmail.com with the subject “MESSAGE BOOK” Every letter, note, picture received with that subject will be printed on decorative paper and placed into a scrapbook for them. Please be sure to use that subject only as every email coming in will be sent to it’s own folder so none get lost.

Thank you,
Katelyn Strebe

 

Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4 Endorses the Sitting Judges

Sitting Judges

Judges who are appointed by the Governor undergo a rigorous evaluation process to determine whether they are qualified and suited to serve the citizens. Judge Keith Truffer and Judge Kathleen Cox were appointed after going through that process. The Executive Board of Directors and the membership of Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4 have endorsed both of these to continue in their current positions. We are asking the members who live in Baltimore County not only to vote for both of these candidates but to as your family and friends to vote for them as well.

If anyone would like to volunteer as a poll worker on election day please contact the lodge office.

Baltimore County police officer sues over alleged ADA violation

A Baltimore County police officer has filed suit against the county, alleging she was suspended after she refused to comply with unlawful orders to provide her private medical information and submit to mental health treatment.

Heather Flanary returned to full-duty work following a traumatic on-duty incident in 2013, according to her lawsuit, but has since faced a “relentless and escalating course of conduct” by the county and police department despite having been declared fit for duty multiple times after the incident.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Officer Flanary has been and continues to be targeted, harassed and threatened relentlessly with discipline and job loss, after returning successfully from a traumatic incident where she risked her life in the line-of-duty and resumed performance of her job with great commitment and distinction,” the complaint states. “Defendants’ discriminatory acts, illegal medical inquiries, and harassment have caused and continue to cause Officer Flanary great emotional distress and damage to her career.”

Ellen L. Kobler, a Baltimore County spokeswoman, said Thursday the county would not comment on pending litigation.

The 2013 attack did not leave Flanary physically injured but resulted in her partner shooting the attacker to prevent him from injuring her or seizing her weapon, according to the complaint. Flanary and two other officers were off duty for a week following the incident until they were cleared by the department’s contract psychologist to return to their regular patrol duties.

‘Stress reaction’

About two months later, Flanary experienced a “stress reaction” while she was at the police firing range, the lawsuit states. As a result, she was suspended, placed on administrative leave and ordered to submit to a fitness for duty evaluation. The contract psychologist deemed her unfit and recommended she engage in therapy and remedial work at the range.

Flanary complied, and her private psychologist later diagnosed her with a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the complaint. In January 2014, her psychologist told her the county had stopped paying his bills, so she initiated a worker’s compensation claim to continue coverage for her therapy, according to the complaint. She returned to full duty in March 2014 and completed her therapy treatment several months later, the suit states.

Later that year, she received a favorable performance evaluation, and in early 2015, both the department’s psychiatrist and a psychiatrist designated by her worker’s compensation attorney deemed her fit for duty.

The police department opposed Flanary’s worker’s compensation request at a hearing in June 2015 but the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission ruled in her favor. But several months later, “out of the blue,” she was ordered to again submit to a fitness-for-duty examination, the lawsuit states. Flanary complied, fearing discipline if she disobeyed, despite knowing there was no basis for the “highly intrusive, stigmatizing” request, the suit states.

Flanary was declared fit for duty, but the county’s human resources office in November served her with an order from the county police chief requiring her to comply with certain recommendations by the department’s psychologist, including that she continue to attend therapy, the suit states.

Flanary acknowledged receiving the order but refused to authorize the department’s psychologist to discuss her treatment with her private therapist.

In January, the county ordered Flanary to comply with six mandatory conditions to continue work as a full-duty police officer. The conditions included providing contact information for her private therapist, as well as authorizing the therapist to give the county confidential medical information.

When Flanary refused to provide anything other than a letter confirming she had attended therapy sessions, she was assigned to desk duty, according to the complaint.

Flanary filed suit for emergency injunctive relief in February, and a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge entered a temporary restraining order barring enforcement of the department’s orders. She was assigned back to patrol the next day but was returned to desk duty once another judge dissolved the restraining order.

In August, she was suspended and assigned to civilian administrative duties.

The lawsuit seeks $400,000 in compensatory damages, as well as an injunction lifting the suspension, preventing the county from conducting further medical inquiries of Flanary related to the 2013 incident and preventing the county from compelling treatment as a condition of employment or full duty status.

Kathleen Cahill, a Towson solo practitioner representing Flanary, declined to comment Thursday.

The case is Heather Flanary v. Baltimore County et al., 1:16-cv-03422-CCB.

Motion for Preliminary Injunction      Complaint and Demand for Trial

The 36th Citizens’ Academy Program

The 36th Citizens’ Academy Program has been scheduled for the Spring of 2017.  The Program consists of 16 sessions which includes 15 consecutive weekly evening classes (6:30-9:30 PM) and one Saturday class (9:00AM-3:00PM).  The following dates and days of the week have been selected for the 36th Citizens’ Academy.

March 1, 2017 through June 7, 2017 – Wednesday evenings

Saturday date is pending at this time

The majority of the classroom sessions will be held at the Public Safety Building.

Nomination Forms will be accepted through February 13, 2017.  Class size will be limited to a maximum of 50 attendees.

Information and application for electronic submission is located on the Internet through the Baltimore County Government website at www.baltimorecountymd.gov under Agency – Police – Youth and Community Resources – Citizens’ Police Academy.

Attached is a copy of the 2017 Brochure and Nomination Form for those without Internet access.

Please recommend this Program to citizens or employees you feel may benefit from this training and experience.

A Thank You From Melissa Roy

Please let me take a moment to thank you for Wednesday. What an honor to have met such wonderful people. As a mom, the feeling of seeing my little boy so happy cannot be put into words. The turn out just shocked and humbled us. We are forever grateful!

Thank you just isn’t enough!

Melissa Roy
(Matten’s mom)

Baltimore County cracks down on workers’ online behavior as political season heats up

As the political season heats up, Baltimore County is warning government employees that it plans to enforce a long-standing policy against “brutal or offensive” behavior in the workplace and on private time, including on social media.

County officials say the increasing coarseness of online behavior, particularly about the presidential election, led them to remind employees of the policy and require supervisors to implement it.

“Social media, while it has encouraged in many cases lively dialogue, it also at times promotes a passion that is very close to walking a line in terms of how we communicate with one another,” said Don Mohler, spokesman and chief of staff to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

Mohler said the county knows that people are increasingly passionate about political and social issues “and how comfortable the public is in sharing those passions in a public forum, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, you name it.”

While freedom of speech is a bedrock of American democracy, not all speech is protected under the First Amendment. Numerous court cases have held that employers — including governments — can discipline workers for things they say, according to Baltimore County Attorney Michael Field.

For example, a county employee who hints at violence toward a member of the public or another employee would be in violation of the policy, he said. The same goes for someone who uses derogatory language or implies a member of the public wouldn’t get the same service or treatment from the county as another person.

But taking stances on divisive issues would still be allowed.

“If someone writes, ‘I don’t believe in Black Lives Matter’ or ‘All lives matter,’ that is clearly protected speech, and it’s not brutal or offensive,” Field said.

The county sent a memo to all employees recently to alert them to the policy and to warn that it would be enforced. The memo, signed by County Administrative Officer Fred Homan, says the county will take a “zero-tolerance approach” to violations of the policy.

“It is not our intention to eliminate humor or free political expression from your personal lives,” Homan wrote.

The memo warns employees that even what they say on their personal social media accounts and in their personal time can affect their job status.

County officials said they had informal talks with union leaders before issuing the memo to the county’s 8,000 employees.

John Ripley, president of the Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees, which represents about 1,500 county workers, said he’s aware of the memo but declined to comment on it.

The policy has rarely been enforced in the past. But supervisors are now required to investigate any reports of possible policy violations. Supervisors won’t be responsible for watching social media to try and ferret out offenders.

“This is not Big Brother,” Mohler said. “We’re not monitoring a thing. We’re not surfing social media sites to see who is saying what. It will be complaint-driven.”

Employees who are in violation of the policy can be reprimanded with “progressive discipline,” ranging from a verbal warning up to dismissal. Employees who are members of unions can file grievances to challenge disciplinary decisions.

The county Fire Department put a new social media policy into place last year. The guidelines prohibit members from posting images of departmental uniforms, vehicles and other property “that present the Fire Department in a negative or unprofessional light.”

Among other rules, fire employees also are not allowed to post things that constitute harassment, hate speech or libel.

The Police Department also is working on a new policy.

“Both of these departments have been working to clarify these issues for employees for some time,” said Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for the police and fire agencies. “We find that they are anxious or hungry for information that clarifies where the boundaries are.”

David Rose, second vice president for the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4, said he does not know of any police officers being disciplined for social media use in recent yeas.

“Every once in a while, I’ll have someone that might call me and say, ‘I was going to post this thing on social media — what do you think about it?'” he said. “My remark has always been, if you need to ask that question, don’t post it.”

In Baltimore, a police lieutenant and the police union are suing the Police Department and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis over the agency’s social media policy.

Lt. Victor Gearhart, who was a patrol shift commander, was reassigned to work building security after activists demanded the department fire him for what they considered offensive tweets on his personal account. The lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court.

Field said the county’s policy, which has been on the books since 1958, is narrowly written to apply only to “brutal or offensive” speech.

“There’s no circumstance under which being brutal or using epithets is protected speech,” Field said.

In December 2014, a county 911 employee did not face discipline when she posted on her Facebook page that “thugs” are more trustworthy than “any policeman.” She said she feared for her son’s safety when interacting with police because he is black.

At the time, Kamenetz defended the employee’s right to speak out on the issue but urged people to discuss the issue in a “positive and productive manner.” The employee faced strong backlash and eventually resigned from her job.

Conduct policies like Baltimore County’s are generally found to be legal when challenged in court, said Eric B. Easton, professor at the University of Baltimore’s School of Law, who specializes in media law, including First Amendment issues.

Government employers usually can’t restrict an employee’s speech on purely private matters, such as complaining about a relative. But on matters of “public interest,” the government can discipline employees for what they say, Easton said.

“They’re going to balance what I had to say and my right to say it against the efficiency and effectiveness of the government,” Easton said. “If what I say impairs discipline in my agency, has a detrimental effect on the mission of my agency, they can regulate that.”

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

alisonk@baltsun.com

twitter.com/aliknez

Copyright © 2016, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication

Grievance Decision for Employees Issued Incorrect Form W2

Earlier this year the FOP filed a Class Grievance on behalf of 41 members who incurred an additional cost for filing an amended tax return because the County originally gave them incorrect Form W2’s and did not issue correct ones until seven weeks later. A total of 271 incorrect W2’s were given to our members who collectively had incurred additional cost of tax preparation totaling $2,393.50.

A grievance hearing was held on July 29, 2016 at the Office of Administrative Hearings in front of ALJ Lawrence Stahl. The FOP, in presenting its case, entered 22 exhibits as evidence in support of the grievance.

On September 7, 2016 ALJ Stahl issued his decision stating the grievance was denied. He does not mention the many positions or exhibits we presented in our case. He sates the FOP has no authority to present the grievance. The decision can be read here.

Several weeks before presenting this grievance FOP leadership and County Executive Kamenetz  spoke about this grievance and asked him if he could help bring resolution and relief to those members who had incurred the additional cost becuse of the County’s error. His response was that he would allow the grievance to proceed in the process.

This once again shows the lack of this administrations will to take responsibility and resolve simple disputes even when their actions are clearly shown to be wrong.

The United States Federal Court recently found that the County did discriminate against older employees by having them pay more into the pension system than younger employees.  The estimates of over-payments by employees reached as high as $19 million dollars.  The County vehemently argued that neither prospective or retroactive relief was merited and was pleased with the decision when the court ruled in their favor by not requiring them to pay back the employees.

The irony here is, back in 2009 an audit of the pension system revealed that through an error by the County, they were not deducting the correct pension amount from some employees.  The County quickly contacted those employees to have them pay back the contributions owed and they wanted interest on that money!

Another audit revealed the County had inadvertently overpaid an employee approximately $1,900 over three years. Again, they quickly contacted that employee to demand repayment.

It appears to be that when the Kamenetz Administration makes an error that causes employees to owe them money, they seek to collect and sometimes with interest. However, if they make an error that causes employees to incur an additional expense from their household the County strongly argues against any reimbursement. When they are successful in forcing employees to bear the expense of their error, they simply state, ”The County is pleased with this decision and happy that it was effectively able to finally end this litigation”.

 

LODGE #4 “FALLEN HEROES” MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS

Applications for the Fall, 2017/Spring, 2018 scholarships are available now by contacting Lodge #4.  Nine (9) $3,000.00 awards are made each year.

Applications for these awards are open to the sons, daughters, adopted children, step-children or legally court-appointed wards, who are citizens of the United States.  The applicant’s parent or guardian shall have been an Active or Retired member in good standing of Baltimore County Lodge #4 for at least one (1) full year prior to the date of application for the current year scholarship awards.  The applicant must be or will be a full-time student at a recognized college or university.

The deadline to return the completed application with required attachments is February 1, 2017.

Retiree health care subsidy case update

Our attorney in the retiree health care subsidy case has advised us that the county has two options as the result of the Maryland Court of Appeals decision in our favor. First, they have thirty days to ask the same court, the Maryland Court of Appeals to reconsider the decision they just rendered. Second, they have ninety days to petition the United States Supreme Court to hear the case.

We have communicated with the County Attorney, Mike Field to see what County’s intentions are going forward in this matter now that the Court of Appeals has ruled against them for the 2nd time.  He has communicated to us that the County will take no further action in this litigation.

We are working with the financial institution where the funds have been in escrow to disseminate the funds to those affected in a timely manner.