Baltimore County must pay more than $780,000 to a former longtime county sanitarian who said she was forced into retirement when supervisors refused to accommodate her disability, a federal jury decided.
Dianne Van Rossum sued the county for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, saying she was not allowed to move to another office when she had a severe reaction to chemical odors emanating from new paint and carpeting in the Jefferson Building, a county office space in Towson.
The jury returned the verdict this week in U.S. District Court. It awarded $530,053 for economic damages and $250,000 for pain and suffering.
“I hope this case just sends a message,” said Van Rossum, who worked for the county’s environmental department from 1980 to 2010. “The jury obviously agreed that my rights were violated.”The county plans to appeal the verdict, a spokeswoman said
The case isn’t the first time Baltimore County has been challenged over its treatment of workers with medical problems. In 2012, the county agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice over workplace discrimination issues related to people’s medical conditions.
For much of her career with the county, Van Rossum worked as a food plans review specialist, evaluating architectural plans for restaurants and inspecting the eateries before they opened.
According to her lawsuit, Van Rossum developed an illness from mold and harmful chemicals in the county courthouse. She experienced episodes of dizziness, headaches and joint pain, fatigue, stomach upset, and weakness in her limbs.
In the summer of 2009, her department was relocated to the fourth floor of Jefferson Building on Chesapeake Avenue. The building had been renovated, and the move made her symptoms worse.
Van Rossum asked to move to another floor of the building, a request she at first was granted. But the following year, Van Rossum said, a manager said she had to return to the fourth floor. She was re-assigned to the position of field inspector and, eventually, a manager said she had to work on the fourth floor or face discipline.
In April 2010, she was “forced into early retirement,” Van Rossum claimed in the lawsuit. She was three months shy of qualifying for a full county pension.
At work, Van Rossum received positive performance reviews, the lawsuit states.
“I felt like there was no one within Baltimore County that I could turn to after being a good and loyal employee,” said Van Rossum, 61, who now lives in South Carolina. “Baltimore County really needs to maintain their buildings and provide a healthy environment for their employees.”
Matthew K. Handley, director of litigation for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, said Van Rossum’s request to change offices was “very modest.”
“I think this is something [the county] could have avoided very early if they had accommodated her,” Handley said. “It will hopefully send a message to employers that accommodating people with disabilities is not only the law, but good business.”
The lawyers’ committee, which was part of Van Rossum’s legal team, represents people in civil rights cases dealing with employment, housing, public and accommodations.
This past July, another former county worker won a $400,000 verdict in a disability-discrimination case against the county. In that case, a laborer with the county highways department said he sprained his back in 2010 while shoveling asphalt. The worker said that after he recovered from the injury and returned to work, the county fired him after he could still do his job.
In the 2012 settlement, the federal government alleged that 10 employees and job applicants in the police and fire departments were required to have inappropriate and intrusive medical exams or were subjected to other forms of disability discrimination. The suit also alleged the county refused to hire two qualified applicants for EMT positions because they had diabetes.
An employer violates the Americans with Disabilities Act if it requires workers to undergo exams unrelated to their job duties.
The section below is taken directly from the Maryland State Comptroller Website
Frequently Asked Questions About Income Tax http://taxes.marylandtaxes.com/Individual_Taxes/Individual_Tax_Types/Income_Tax/Tax_Information/Frequently_Asked_Questions/Income_Tax_FAQs/q30.shtml
|30. Who may claim the law enforcement subtraction modification?
Beginning January 1, 2016, “law enforcement officers” can claim an income tax subtraction modification for the first $5,000 of income earned if:
(1) The law enforcement officer resides and works in the same political subdivision; and
A “law enforcement officer” is an individual who is authorized in his or her official capacity to make arrests and is a member of a law enforcement agency, including officers serving under a probationary status or at the pleasure of the appointing authority of a county or municipal corporation. Federal law enforcement officers do not qualify for the subtraction modification.
A list of the political subdivisions that have crime rates exceeding the State’s crime rate is provided to the Comptroller’s Office by the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission. You can review whether your political subdivision exceeds the State’s crime rate here.
A law enforcement officer may claim the subtraction, if applicable, by reporting it on Form 502 and Form 502SU. The code is 00 (zero/zero).
In the 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly HB1016 the Public Safety and Policing Workgroup bill was passed. The bill contained a section (page 35) that allows for a subtraction of the first $5,000 of earned income by a law enforcement officer who resides in the political subdivision in which the law enforcement officer is employed and the crime rate in the political subdivision exceeds the state’s crime rate.
As always please consult your tax adviser for professional advice. This is provided as information only.
A man who threatened family members with a gun was shot last night by police in Precinct 9/White Marsh when he reached for a powerful scoped rifle as they tried to de-escalate the crisis.
The suspect is Kerry Lee Coomer, 59, of the unit block of Greenwood Ave., 21206 – the same address where last night’s incident took place.
Patrol officers were dispatched to the unit block of Greenwood Avenue at 10:43 p.m. for a report of a suicidal subject with a gun. Coomer’s estranged wife, who lives nearby, told police he had been arguing with her throughout the day and was verbally and visibly suicidal; he said he wanted to die, and he pointed the gun – a .30-.30 scoped rifle – at himself.
Coomer threatened the estranged wife and another family member. At some point, he pointed the rifle at one of them, and that is when the estranged wife called police.
Coomer came onto the porch when patrol responded, and one officer began to talk to him in an effort to calm him and de-escalate the situation. A second officer provided cover. The first officer provided clear verbal commands for the suspect to put up his hands and come off the porch. The suspect refused.
As the first officer continued to verbally engage the suspect, he suddenly reached for the rifle and brought it up. The officer turned and ran for his life. The cover officer fired two shots. Both hit the suspect in the upper body.
Baltimore County Fire Department medic crews were called immediately. The suspect was declared dead at the scene.
The Homicide Unit’s investigation is ongoing. The Homicide Unit investigates all police involved shootings. After the investigation is complete, the incident will be reviewed by the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The officer involved in the shooting will be placed on administrative status while the incident is reviewed.
Body camera footage from the officer who communicated with the suspect and fled for his life is part of the investigation. The officer who fired the shots was not equipped with a body camera.
BCoPD’s body camera program began last July and is expected to be fully deployed by September 30, 2017.
Over the past couple of years’ law enforcement agencies across the country have faced intense public scrutiny about officer conduct and the use of force by officers on the citizens they serve. Recent events both nationally and local have gained widespread attention on both traditional and social media. This has created this firestorm of rhetoric that police officers in America are out of control, running rampant throughout the community, with no regard for citizen rights and no mechanism to discipline officers for misconduct. As you can see from the statistics below, this is simply not accurate for the members of the Baltimore County Police Department.
|Year||County Population||Calls for Service||Assaults on Officers||Arrests||Uses of Force||Citizen Complaints|
The county population has steadily grown since 2010 with an increase of approximately 19,000 (2%) over the next five (5) years. Demographics available on the county website showed that in 2010 the population was 64% white, 26% African American, 4% Hispanic, 6% other.
Calls for Service
The number of calls for service shown includes all calls to 911, non-emergency calls and traffic stops. This does not take into account the numerous undocumented interactions with citizens that officers have every day.
Calls for service for the time period shown have shown a steady decline. The average number of calls for service was 583,572. Every year since 2013 has been under the average.
In Baltimore County between 2010 and 2015 there were a total of 173,918 arrests made. That equates to an average of 28,986 arrests per year in a county where the population has grown to 824,000. Every year since 2011 has been under the average. The number of arrests has consistently trended downward since 2010 (24%) while the population has steadily grown.
Uses of Force by Officers
In the Baltimore County Police Department, a “use of force” report must be completed when an officer uses force involving Department issued equipment, personal equipment, an instrument of necessity (excluding firearms) and/or when injuries (visible or non-visible) have occurred to an individual that indicate medical treatment may be necessary.
In the six years indicated above, Baltimore County officers used force (excluding firearms) a total of 1,983 times. From 2012-2015 there has been a 20% decrease in uses of force by officers. Additionally, the statistics show that force was only used in 00.056633% of all calls for service and 01.14% in all arrests.
Internal Affairs statistics show that officers were involved in combat shootings 37 times during the same time period averaging about 6.1 per year. This equates to the use of a firearm in 00.00123% of all calls for service and in 00.02127% of all arrests.
Assaults on Officers
During the 6-year time period officers reported being assaulted 4,721 times averaging 786.8 assaults per year. (There has been 1 line of duty death) While assaults on officers have been trending downward (32%), the numbers show that officers in Baltimore County are 2.3 times more likely to be assaulted by a citizen than use force against a citizen.
According to the Internal Affairs Section in the Baltimore County Police Department there were 661 complaints from citizens about officer misconduct, including uses of force. That equates to an average of 110 per year and has also been steadily trending downward (33.5%). Over the entire time period there was an average of 1 citizen complaint for every 5,297 calls for service. The best year was 2015 with 1 citizen complaint for every 6,857 calls for service.
An Administrative complaint is defined as a complaint filed by members internally within the police department. According to the Internal Affairs Section in the Baltimore County Police Department there were 579 complaints initiated from within the department from 2010-2015. That equates to an average of 96.5 per year and 46.6% of all Internal Affairs investigations.
The style and manner of policing is constantly evolving. Moving forward with the challenges in policing, law enforcement is adapting a style of policing that encourages community partnership. We must still focus on crime because there will always be incidents that need to be investigated and violent criminals that need to be arrested. But we need to do both and we need to do them better and together.
There is a very select group of citizens in a part of Maryland that has a mistrust of their police department and that is unfortunate. That is certainly not the case in Baltimore County. We enjoy an excellent working relationship with the community we serve.
Second Vice President
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #4
This correspondence is directed specifically to any retirees who have recently received IRS notices regarding their 2013 tax filings and the “Pension Exclusion” which is currently explained in section 13 of the Maryland 2016 State and local tax forms and instruction booklet.
Apparently the electronic filing by Baltimore County for 2013 was in error. The 1099-R received by our members reflected the proper numbers. As a result of our inquires, Baltimore County is currently drafting a letter to all affected members. Additionally, the Comptroller’s Office has put out the following directive to Tax Preparers in the State of Maryland.
Comptroller’s Office Notice
MSATP was informed by the Comptroller’s Office that approximately 500 notices were mailed to taxpayers who received Baltimore County Pension (1099R) in 2013. Apparently, the paper copy and the information that was transmitted electronically to the State of MD was different. The 1099R your client received is correct. If your client receives a notice on this issue, please prepare a brief letter to the Comptroller with a copy of the 1099R.
Assistant Director Correctional Training
|Department||DPSCS Police and Correctional Training Commissions|
|Date Opened||1/24/2017 2:54:00 PM|
|Filing Deadline||2/7/2017 11:59:00 PM|
|Salary||$53,193.00 – $85,401.00/year|
|HR Analyst||Kristina Metzger|
This is a Special Appointment position with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. The incumbent serves at the pleasure of the appointing authority.
LOCATION OF POSITION
6852 4th Street, Sykesville, MD 21784
Main Purpose of Job
The main purpose of this position is to assist the Director of Correctional Training, provide direct supervision to the Captains and to act on behalf of the Director when unavailable. The incumbent must be familiar with all training programs and the operations of Corrections agencies and institutions.
Some of the duties of this position include, but are not limited to:
- Coordination and oversight of In-service and entry-level Training for all institutions throughout the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
- Coordination and oversight of Field Training Officer Program for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
- Coordinates with Training Director, Regional Coordinators, and Program Managers to develop and provide training programs that address Departmental needs and maintains professional training for all Department employees. Maintains familiarity with program approval process, approves programs, and maintains and oversees adjunct instructors for In-Service and Field Training Programs
- Coordinates and assists in developing In-service training for Supervisors in the DPSCS
Education: A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
Experience: Five years of experience in administrative staff or professional work. One year of this experience must have involved one or more of the following: the supervision of other employees, overseeing and coordinating the general operations of a unit, applying rules and regulations, or exercising responsibility for the development of policies or procedures. Three years of experience in conducting, coordinating or overseeing training programs. One year of this experience must have been a corrections or law enforcement setting.
- Additional experience in administrative staff or professional work may be substituted on a year-for-year basis for the required education.
- Additional graduate level education at an accredited college or university may be substituted at the rate of 30 semester credit hours on a year to year basis for the required general experience.
- Candidates may substitute U.S. Armed Forces military service experience as a commissioned officer involving staff work related to the administration of rules, regulations, policy, procedures and processes, or overseeing or coordinating unit operations or functioning as a staff assistant to a higher ranking commissioned officer on a year to year basis for the required education and experience.
All persons who meet the minimum qualifications will be approved on the certification list and will be placed on the employment (eligible) list for at least one year. Please make sure that you provide sufficient information on your application to show that you meet the qualifications for this recruitment. All information concerning your qualifications must be submitted by the closing date. We will not consider information submitted after the above closing date.
Submit your qualifying documents; the preferred method is to upload them using the “other” tab on the online application. However, if you’re unable to upload your documents, please fax requested information only to 410-585-0570 (providing a cover sheet with your contact information, recruitment name, recruitment number and the number of pages faxed). We will not consider information submitted after the closing date of this announcement.
Resumes will NOT be accepted in lieu of completing the online or paper application. Online applications are STRONGLY recommended; if you do not have internet access, please mail your application by the closing date to:
HRSD-Recruitment & Examination
ATTN: Kristina Metzger
6776 Reisterstown Road, Suite 309 Baltimore, MD 21215
For more information, please call 410-585-3060
As an equal opportunity employer Maryland is committed to recruiting, retaining and promoting employees who are reflective of the State’s diversity.
We thank our Veterans for their service to our country, and encourage them to apply.
TTY Users: call via Maryland Relay
Please apply online at www.dpscs.maryland.gov
Prosecutors are accusing a political slate funded by former Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. of making an unlawful loan to Mayor Catherine Pugh before the Democratic primary last year — the second action prosecutors have taken this month against donors to Pugh’s campaign.
An investigator with the Office of the State Prosecutor has filed a $3,000 fine in Anne Arundel County District Court, charging the Baltimore County Victory Slate with “unlawfully making an impermissible expenditure of a $100,000 loan to the Catherine Pugh committee, as Pugh is not a member of the slate.”
In the final days of Pugh’s effort to defeat rival Sheila Dixon in the April primary, her campaign received $315,000 in loans, including $100,000 from the Baltimore County Victory Slate.
Groups of candidates form slates in order to share campaign donations free from many of the restrictions that limit donations to individual candidates.
Prosecutors say Pugh was not entitled to receive the April 20 loan from the Baltimore County Victory Slate because she had not joined it. She has since joined the slate and repaid the loan.
The slate is funded from Smith’s campaign account. Smith now works as Pugh’s chief of strategic alliances for a $175,000 salary.
Keith Timmons, the treasurer of Pugh’s campaign, said campaign officials “recently learned” of the prosecutor’s actions.
“We regret the clear and obvious misunderstanding which led to the prosecutor’s action against the Baltimore County political organization,” Timmons said in a statement. “The loan was listed on all appropriate finance and campaign reports and has since been repaid.”
Pugh and Smith are both Democrats. Neither responded Monday to requests for comment.
Donald F. Norris, director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said it was not clear whether the case would be problematic for Pugh. He said Smith, a former judge and state transportation secretary, has a reputation for being an “extremely honorable and a decent guy.”
Smith used the Baltimore County Victory Slate in 2010 to transfer more than $400,000 to Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger’s campaign account. Shellenberger is a member of the slate.
Prosecutors announced an indictment this month against a longtime Pugh aide on charges he violated campaign finance laws during the primary.
Prosecutors say Gary Brown Jr. funneled $18,000 through his family to the Pugh campaign. The maximum amount an individual can give to a candidate during a campaign cycle under Maryland law is $6,000.
Prosecutors say Brown deposited cash into the bank accounts of his mother, stepfather and brother before the primary and then immediately contributed that money to the Pugh campaign in their names.
Pugh has said Brown, a legislative aide to Pugh in the state Senate and later her campaign spokesman, is “innocent unless proven otherwise.”
She has said he will continue to work in her mayoral communications office, where he is paid $46,000 annually.
State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said it was “unknown” how Brown got the $18,000. He said the investigation is continuing.
Brown declined to comment. He was selected last month to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegates, but his swearing-in was called off after the indictment.
Former City Councilman Nick J. Mosby has been selected to replace him.
Damon Effingham, policy manager at the government watchdog group Common Cause Maryland, noted that both cases involve people who gave financial support to the campaign landing jobs with Pugh’s administration.
“It’s disappointing there is a second example in the beginning of her administration,” Effingham said. “It has the appearance that people are getting benefits from their donations.”
Even so, Effingham said, “there could be legitimate reasons for why these things happened.”
“She has to be accountable to the people who elected her,” he said. “She owes them an explanation for these instances.”
Sean Yoes, host of “First Edition” on WEAA radio, agreed.
“To start off with two controversial issues connected to money within the first month of her tenure as mayor is concerning,” he said. “I would be looking for a substantial explanation and a lot of transparency about both these situations.”
The lodge regrets the passing of Pfc. Stephen Matthews. Bro. Matthews was still an active member of the department for 30+ years at the time of his passing. He worked most of his career in the Towson precinct and the Technology and Communication section. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to his family.
Below is the Memorial Service information:
Date: Friday January 27, 2017
Time: 1000 hours
Location: Towson United Methodist Church, 501 Hampton Lane Towson, MD 21286
Adams County, PA is hiring a part time security officer to work in the Human Services Building in Gettysburg, PA. This is an armed security position with a starting rate of pay of $15.26 per hour. Officers will work a 24-28 hour work week. All equipment is provided, minimum 5 years law enforcement or military experience required.
The death of a Middle River man days after an encounter with Baltimore County police and fire personnel in September has been ruled accidental.
Tawon Boyd, 21, called 911 for help on Sept. 18 and ended up in a physical struggle with police officers.
He died at a hospital three days later, and his family has questioned how first responders handled the situation.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Boyd’s death was likely caused by drugs. Boyd died Sept. 21 after suffering multiple organ failure, examiners wrote in an autopsy report.
“It is unlikely that restraint by law enforcement caused or significantly contributed to his death based on the reported circumstances and timeline of the restraint,” examiners wrote. “Since his death most likely followed from complications of intoxication with a drug (N-Ethylpentylone), the manner of death is best certified as accident.”
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration classifies N-Ethylpentylone as a type of synthetic cathinone. Synthetic cathinones, commonly referred to as “bath salts,” are unregulated, mind-altering substances, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner issued the ruling this month, spokesman Bruce Goldfarb said.
County police and fire officials declined to comment Wednesday.
Baltimore attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who is representing Boyd’s family, said questions remain about the medical care provided by emergency personnel. He said he plans to have an independent expert review Boyd’s autopsy report and hospital records.
“We think that there’s obviously something wrong here, beyond question, that somebody that calls to reach out for help ends up dead,” Pettit said.
Pettit said witnesses described Boyd as suffering “some kind of emotional or psychotic episode.”
Officers called to Boyd’s home on Akin Circle about 3 a.m. Sept. 18 said they found him sweating heavily and appearing confused and paranoid. His girlfriend said he had been drinking and smoking marijuana and was acting “crazy.”
When officers tried to talk to Boyd, they said in a police report, he began screaming and tried to get into police cars. He yelled, “Help, call the police!”
Officers said Boyd did not comply with their orders. They forced Boyd to the ground and restrained him.
One officer punched him twice in the face as Boyd held onto him, police said. Officers called medics to the home.
Medical examiners said the emergency workers believed Boyd was in an “excited delirium state” and administered the antipsychotic medication Haldol.
Boyd calmed down, but then went into cardiac arrest, examiners said. He was revived by cardiopulmonary resuscitation and taken to the hospital.
Scans of Boyd’s head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis did not show any fractures, examiners said.
“[Boyd’s] presentation in an excited delirium-like state with subsequent cardiac arrest likely developed as a consequence of intoxication with N- Ethylpentylone,” examiners wrote.
No officers were wearing body cameras during the encounter, police have said.
High School Scholarships for Sons of Active Duty Police Officers
Loyola Blakefield is pleased to announce that we are offering scholarships for sons of active duty police officers. The scholarships will be awarded in the amount of $5,000 to two students entering 9th grade in the fall of 2017. The scholarship award is committed to the student for each of his four years at Loyola. The award recognizes the extraordinary efforts of men and women who serve their community and our nation.
Who is eligible? All sons of full-time active duty police officers in the region.
How do I apply? You must first submit an application for enrollment to Loyola Blakefield online at www.loyolablakefield.org/apply. Once your application is submitted, you may express interest in the scholarship online at www.loyolablakefield.org/scholarshipaward
Am I still eligible for other forms of scholarship or financial aid? Yes. This scholarship may be in addition to other need-based financial assistance or merit scholarships.
About Us Loyola Blakefield, a Catholic, college preparatory school, established by the Jesuits and imbued with the spirit of Ignatius Loyola, forms men to serve with and for others. The Loyola student is preparing to graduate as a man of integrity, who, because he strives “to find God in all things,” is open to growth, intellectually ambitious, religious, loving, and committed to diversity and doing justice.
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!
President, National Fraternal Order of Police
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).
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