Effective Friday, October 1, 2021, several provisions of HB670 will take effect. Maryland Annotated Code, State Government Article, §6-106.2, mandates that when an officer is involved in a police involved shooting, in-custody death, or a use of force that involves serious bodily injury, the investigation will be conducted by the Attorney General’s Office in conjunction with the Maryland State Police. This is going to be a change in how these critical incidents have been investigated in the past. It will be important for you to know the procedures when you are on-call.
Based on information that we have received, it is apparent the Attorney Generals’ Office will be looking at these incidents very closely and will likely lean towards criminally charging police officers in the future. When responding to incidents please keep the following in mind:
- Officers will only be required to answer “Public Safety Questions”:
- *Have you been involved in an Officer-Involved Shooting?
- *Is anyone injured? Where are they?
- *Are there any outstanding suspects? If so, can you provide a description, direction, mode of flight? How long ago did the outstanding suspect(s) flee? What weapons are they armed with?
- *Did the suspect(s) fire at you? Where was the suspect? Where were you?
- *Where were you when you fired at the suspect? Where was the suspect?
- *Did you move during the encounter? From where to where?
- *Are you aware of weapons or evidence that needs to be secured or protected?
- *Are you aware of any witnesses? Where are they?
As a practice, no one from the FOP and no attorney from SBWDLAW will allow an accused officer make any voluntary statements to the investigator with the exception of answering the “Public Safety Questions.”
Upon making contact with the involved officer, please remind him/her that they are not to make any statements to anyone including their shift partners and supervisors.
Please know that a requirement of the AG’s Office is that the involved officers should remain at the scene until the AG’s Office or MSP investigator arrives at the scene. Photographs of the officer will be taken at the scene. When the involved officer is transported to CID or HQ, the transporting officer must keep their Body Worn Camera activated to record any statements made by the involved officer.
I have attached copies of the AG’s Office Notification Protocols for the Independent Investigation Division, the Media Response procedures for the Independent Investigations, and the Evidence Collection, Storage, and Analysis Protocols for the Independent Investigation Division. Please review these documents so you are aware the new investigative procedures.
IID – MSP Cover Letter
IID Notification Protocol
IID Evidence Collection Protocol
There have been questions about retirement system COLAs. The most common question asked is “How is a retirement system COLA calculated?”. Baltimore County Code Section Section 3-3-902 requires 11 members of the Pension System Board of Trustees (BOT). The County Code gives the County Executive direct control of six (6) of the eleven (11) positions. The County Council appoints two (2) positions. We currently have three (3) votes; the two active members and one retired member.
To change the current ten (10) years smoothing and eight year geometric average calculation for a COLA would require a majority vote of the trustees.
We are asking all retirees to email and or call the County Executive and members of County Council and tell them the system calculation for retiree COLAs should return to the pre 2009 calculation.
§ 3-3-902. – MEMBERSHIP.
(a) Composition; appointment of members.
(1) The Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees consists of eleven trustees.
(2) Of the eleven trustees:
(i) The County Council shall appoint two trustees and the County Executive shall appoint one trustee, each of whom must be a resident of the county who:
1. Does not hold an elective or appointed office or other employment with the county or state;
2. Is not a member, retired member, or beneficiary of the Retirement System or any retirement system provided for under any provision of state law or any county or municipal retirement system;
3. Is not an employee or member of a public or private sector employee union; and
4. Is knowledgeable and experienced in the administration and operation of pension systems, investments, or trust funds.
(ii) The following five trustees shall serve ex officio:
1. The County Executive or the County Executive’s designee;
2. The Director of Budget and Finance;
3. The Director of Human Resources;
4. The Director of Public Works; and
5. The Chief of the Police Department;
(iii) Two trustees shall be members of the retirement system elected by the members of the retirement system; and
(iv) One trustee shall be a retired member of the retirement system elected by the retired members of the retirement system.
Exodus in Police Ranks Reaches ‘Breaking Point’
by Devin Crum
A large and growing number of vacancies in the ranks of the Baltimore County police force is forcing the remaining officers to do more with less, sometimes leaving undone or unfilled other tasks and positions that backup patrols on the street. The shortage of manpower is due to recent unusually large numbers of retirements and resignations by Baltimore County police officers, spots that are not being filled due to shrinking class recruitment sizes. And the resulting personnel drain is causing a diminished police presence in communities, overtime burnout by officers and poorer service to the citizens the police are sworn to serve and protect. So far, Baltimore County police officers are still meeting the call when responding to crimes but surging numbers of calls for help could soon overwhelm the force, putting everyone in danger, according to the head of the local union representing the men and women in blue. “Coupled with a surge in violent crime as residents continue to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic, our officers – and our infrastructure – have reached a breaking point that can no longer be ignored,” said Dave Rose, president of the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #4 in a message posted on the union’s website. “And the communities we serve are suffering as a result.” And Rose contends that certain conditions within the Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) may be to blame for difficulties in retaining and attracting officers. “We are now systematically losing officers to nearby jurisdictions like Montgomery County, Howard County and Anne Arundel County, all of which can offer more substantial benefits, updated technology and equipment, and 21st century facilities,” he said.
How bad is it? During the first seven months of 2021, 103 officers have retired and another 23 have resigned, according to Joy Stewart, director of public affairs for BCoPD. That compares to 80 departures in 2020. To fill some of the vacancies, Stewart said the department expects 34 new recruits will graduate from the police academy on September 2 and 40 more are scheduled to graduate in March 2022. Police training classes usually graduate 100 recruits. Even with the expected new graduating recruits, that still leaves some 106 vacant positions currently on the rolls, she said. Community members say they are beginning to notice a diminished police presence in their neighborhoods and are growing more frustrated that people committing nuisance crimes or traffic violations are often going unpunished. Graceann Rehbein, president of the board of directors for Baltimore County’s Police Community Relations Councils (PCRCs), said it’s “pretty much a given” that there are less officers on the street and there need to be more. “But you can’t put more on the street when you don’t have them to fill [the open positions],” she said.
Rehbein said she suggested to BCoPD Chief Melissa Hyatt that more police need to be in communities where people can see them. She also noted that traffic violations — such as speeding — are a growing concern due to the lack of police available to conduct traffic stops and write tickets. “They’re not issuing tickets and citations for these idiots who drive 150 miles per hour whether it’s a residential street or The Beltway,” she said. “They’re not going to because they don’t have the staff to do it.” FOP President Rose said despite the depleted police ranks, calls are still being answered and reports are still being written. But calls for service are up across the county. “So we have less officers handling more calls for service,” he said. “They’re handling their calls, they’re writing their reports. But all that extra, self-initiated enforcement takes a back seat and the stops and the arrests become less.” Rose added that he hears from officers who have had to work long overtime hours several times in a week which could lead to burnout and present a potential danger to themselves and the public they serve.
Why are so many officers leaving BCoPD now? BCoPD spokesperson Stewart said law enforcement agencies nationwide are experiencing unprecedented challenges with recruitment and retention following a wave of anti-police sentiment that swept the country last year. She also blamed a hiring freeze instituted by the county’s department in 1992 followed by mass hiring in 1994 which is exacerbating today’s retirement numbers. “Those hired back then are approaching 30 years of service and there are several dates that, due to the way retirements are calculated, become more lucrative to retire,” she said. However, FOP’s Rose said many Baltimore County police officers are seeking greener pastures in other neighboring jurisdictions which provide members of their force with more modern technology, equipment and facilities and offer more attractive retirement and healthcare benefits than BCoPD does. He claimed that 19 Baltimore County officers have left the agency for employment in other local police departments since January 2020. Rose said police departments in surrounding jurisdictions allow their officers to retire after 20 years of service while BCoPD requires 25 years. And others require a smaller pension contribution from officers or offer a higher payout benefit than BCoPD. “What their new hires pay for healthcare and what they get for retiree healthcare is significantly less costly to the employee in those other jurisdictions,” he said.
‘Last or next to last’
Rose noted that all of the departments in the region are “fairly competitive” with one another when it comes to starting salaries for officers. “But when you start deducting the employee’s cost for pension contributions and the healthcare costs, our net pay compared to seven jurisdictions that surround us is either last or next to last,” he said. The FOP president also lamented over the subpar state of several of BCoPD’s facilities, particularly the police firing ranges, training and education facilities — or lack thereof — and Cockeysville’s Precinct 7 station house, which serves northern Baltimore County from Timonium to the state line. The Cockeysville building, built in 1969, is among the oldest in the county and is one of three that Rose called “dilapidated and in disrepair.” “We’re talking about policing in 2021 and we’re using facilities that were built in the early 1960s,” Rose said. Norman Zickuhr, director of the Cockeysville PCRC, did not disagree with Rose’s comments about the half-century-old precinct building. “Facility-wise it probably is [dilapidated],” he said. “I’m sure they could use a new facility.”
But BCoPD spokesperson Stewart said it is incorrect to imply that officers are leaving BCoPD en masse for other jurisdictions. She claimed that, while the department has lost four officers to other departments this year, it also has hired 11 officers from other departments in that same time. In an effort to stop the bleeding, Stewart said BCoPD has launched an “innovative and targeted” recruitment campaign to try to attract a pool of qualified applicants and attempt to close the vacancy gap. While Stewart acknowledged that “under-investment” in the police department infrastructure dates back many years, she said county government recently has made significant progress and investment over the last two years. “There’s been an investment of millions of dollars in updated equipment, technology and training,” she said, pointing out that nearly 100 new police vehicles were purchased last year and a recent order was placed for 70 more. The local police spokeswoman also said Chief Hyatt has replaced outdated personal protection equipment with new helmets and chest and shin protectors and spent $1.2 million on upgrades for the county’s firing range.
Age and condition
Additionally, County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr. included funds in his FY22 budget to purchase property for a new Precinct 1 (Wilkins) facility, replacing the county’s oldest station in the most disrepair. Because of the age and condition of the Precinct 1 building, it is no longer considered suitable to hold prisoners because it is too much of an escape risk. But Rose called the improvements at the firing range a “patchwork” approach and lamented that there currently are no plans to replace the Cockeysville precinct. building He said the officer vacancies are not spread evenly across the county’s 10 precincts, and in Cockeysville nine of its 111 authorized positions are currently vacant. And another 10 officers from the precinct are temporarily stationed with another unit. While other precincts may be even more adversely affected, that means Precinct 7 is currently down 17 percent of its potential staff, he said. County-wide, in addition to the 106 vacancies, Rose claimed another 10 are on military leave, 80 are on modified duty, 40 are in the academy and 15 are on suspension. According to his math, that means the department will have to hire about 2.5 times as many new officers as projected for several years consistently.
‘Get into a spiral’
Rose commended Chief Hyatt on her “full-court press” attempts in recruiting but added, “I don’t see that happening in the current climate,” he said. “My reasoning for putting this out there is to say, look, we’re in bad shape,” Rose said, though not in “critical, crisis mode.” “But if we don’t start addressing some of these issues to bring people in and keep them here, we’re going to get into a spiral that we’re not going to be able to dig out of,” he said. The situation will get worse before it gets better, added Rose. “I think we’re going to continue to see [a higher number of] retirements through the end of this year and into next year,” he said Stewart agreed saying that BCoPD expects a higher number of retirements again in July 2022. To attract recruits and retain experienced officials, Rose said the county has to put up the money to address the issue. “Without the resources needed to bring our department up to par with nearby jurisdictions, we will continue to lose qualified candidates and existing officers to other more modern and better-equipped agencies and our communities will continue to bear the brunt of understaffed and undervalued precincts,” he said. “The longer we wait, the more expensive it’s going to be,” added Rose.
TAGLINE Devin Crum is a reporter for the Country Chronicle and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FOP does not support the mandating of a vaccine. It is an individual choice that should be made after consultation between an individual and his/her doctor or religious beliefs.
However, there is a long history of case law dating back over a century that does support a government entity and employer’s authority to issue such a mandate.
While the FOP may not be able to legally stop the implementation of such a mandate, we can bargain over the implementation of such a policy. At this time we have had one meeting for approximately 90 minutes, the day of the announcement. We have communicated the views of the membership and will continue to do so as we work toward resolution.
Below is a legal opinion from the National FOP that gives insight to many questions about employers and the mandating of vaccines. I urge everyone to read it. We have also provided the extensive case history, ADA, EEOC and other resources. Please take the time to read these resources.
COVID-19 Questions and Answers
Jacobson v Massachusetts Supreme Court 1905 The main case supporting vaccine mandates
Zucht v King Supreme Court 1922 Vaccine Mandates do not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment
Bridges v Houston Methodist United States District Court of Southern Texas June 2021
Horvath v City of Leander (Reasonable Accommodation) United States Court of Appeals 5th Circuit Court January 2020
Klaasen v Trustees of Indiana University United States Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit Court August 2021
What you should know about COVID, the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and other EEO Laws
COVID Vaccination and Testing Program Facts
Scientific American – Vaccine Mandates are lawful
Constitution Daily -Current Constitutional Issues Related to the Vaccine
Public Safety Labor News – Vaccines and Employment Law
A Breaking Point in Baltimore County
The Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD), like many departments across the country, is struggling to overcome significant increases in early retirements and resignations, in addition to large drops in qualified applicants. Unlike many similarly sized jurisdictions, however (BCPD is the 21st largest police department in the country), our challenges are compounded by decades of neglect and under-investment that together have left us with more than 100 officer vacancies today.
Once a highly regarded agency that regularly recruited the top 10% of applicants to our ranks, we are now systematically losing officers to nearby jurisdictions like Montgomery County, Howard County and Anne Arundel County, all of which can offer more substantial benefits, updated technology and equipment and 21st Century facilities.
Since January of this year, the BCoPD has logged 99 retirements and 31 resignations compared to 47 and 32 in 2020. Since January 2020, 19 officers have left the agency for employment in other local, more modern police departments and we’re losing senior officers to early retirement at numbers greater than ever before. At the same time, BCoPD is unable to recruit enough quality candidates to keep up with attrition or to hire enough candidates to fill a recruit class, resulting in approximately 118 sworn vacancies, 16 cadet vacancies and 60 civilian vacancies as of June.
Coupled with a surge in violent crime as residents continue to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic, our officers – and our infrastructure – have reached a breaking point that can no longer be ignored. And the communities we serve are suffering as a result.
While BCoPD offers competitive gross salaries, the benefits we can provide pale in comparison to comparable jurisdictions. Not only do our officers receive smaller pensions and fewer retirement options than their peers, but they are also asked to work with outdated and failing equipment that is unsuitable for policing today. For example, Baltimore County officers are not equipped with department-issued laptops, nor are they assigned radios, cell phones or cars – many of which are standard issued equipment in other agencies.
If we are to stop the hemorrhaging of talent to other departments, we must have the resources to provide affordable, competitive health care and retirement options and to offer equipment and other benefits that are in line with similarly sized departments.
Deficient Training Facilities
BCoPD does not have a comprehensive training facility. Instead, the department uses limited and inadequate space at the CCBC Dundalk Campus, where they are at the mercy of campus schedules for the use of certain areas. We use a volunteer fire department for classroom space and run tactical exercises and scenarios at flea markets, restaurants and movie theaters. There is no driver training track for emergency vehicle operations, leaving driver training to be conducted where and when we can borrow available track time at proximate non-department facilities.
The Baltimore County Firearms Training Range is fifty-five years old and has outlived its usefulness. For example, the outdoor range cannot be used at this time because of high lead levels and the indoor range has had problems with ventilation and high lead levels for years, often making it unsafe for use. Rifle qualifications have been moved off-site to a borrowed range facility because our current range cannot accommodate today’s necessary qualifications. Inadequate attempts over the years to make temporary fixes have provided little relief.
Since the County shut down the department’s K9 training facility 15 years ago after several dogs died, we have not been provided the resources to construct a new K9 training facility. Today, our K9 and tactical units work out of dilapidated government buildings and K9 officers are not provided take-home vehicles to transport their partners or staffed kennels on-site to properly and safely house our four-legged partners, when necessary, which is standard in surrounding jurisdictions.
To accomplish both the level of training necessary to fully vet and prepare recruits and to overcome the competitive disadvantage we find ourselves at with other proximate departments under consideration by recruits, we must have a dedicated public safety training facility and Police Academy that includes a driver training track for police and fire, a professional shooting range, proper classroom settings, a K9 facility and buildings that allow for recreation of the real-life scenarios that officers encounter daily.
Aging Precincts and Equipment
Several of Baltimore County’s precincts are not modernly equipped to meet today’s policing needs and requirements. Precincts 1 (1962), 7 (1969) and 11 (1973) are all dilapidated and in disrepair – and lack the proper infrastructure and equipment that modern precincts require to deliver excellent police services to our citizens and attract high-quality officer candidates. For example, Precinct 1 is no longer suitable to hold prisoners because it is considered too much of an escape risk due to old and failing infrastructure.
While County Executive Olszewski has appropriated funding for a new Precinct 1, the amount is incommensurate with what is required to build a proper modern facility today – and development has been stalled for more than a year. It is important that we begin immediately to assess, understand and develop plans to modernize our infrastructure across the county so that we can meet the needs of today’s modern police agency.
Reform, Re-imagine and Reinvest
Reform and reinvestment are long overdue here. In these extremely difficult times, for both residents and officers alike, we must move past politics and rhetoric to find solutions that allow us to recruit, train and retain the best officers in the country to protect what we believe are the best communities in the country – here in the place we call home: Baltimore County.
While acknowledging the necessity of wholesale improvements to the systems and processes that can facilitate more just, fair and informed policing in departments across the country, we must also do more and do better – now – to ensure the good and proud officers of the Baltimore County Police Department can carry out their sworn duties with the highest level of training and professionalism on behalf of the people they serve. As it stands now, without the resources needed to bring our department up-to-par with nearby jurisdictions, we will continue to lose qualified candidates and existing officers to other more modern and better-equipped agencies – and our communities will continue to bear the brunt of understaffed and undervalued precincts.
FOP Lodge #4
On Saturday May 8, 2021, our members in the Woodlawn Precinct responded to several calls in the 7500 block of Maury Road. Upon arrival the officers were met by gunfire from a suspect who had already killed several people after setting his and adjoining townhouses ablaze.
After taking cover and attempting to deescalate the situation, the suspect was placed into custody while officers administered first aid on him and began the search for other victims.
The officers who initially responded acted bravely and responsibly to a dynamic incident that has become all too common in recent years. We are tremendously proud of the professionalism, calm and compassion exhibited by our members as they neutralized the threat and protected citizens from further harm throughout this highly traumatic incident.
Thank you to our members in the Woodlawn Precinct, our colleagues in the 911 center, dispatchers and to the entire BCoPD for continuing to set the standard for fair and effective policing.
President, FOP Lodge #4
The tentative settlement agreement between the Baltimore County Administration and Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #4 (FOP) was presented to the membership for ratification. The ratification process was done electronically via department email and a secured voting system through Election Buddy for 5 days in an effort to provide the opportunity for as many members as possible to vote. The ballots were tallied after voting closed at 1200 hours on April 27, 2021.
The voting totals were as follow: FOR Ratification – 767 AGAINST – 141
This Memorandum of Understanding is for July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2023
Thank you to all of those who participated.
Thank you everyone on the Negotiating Committee for all your hard work and do diligence in getting this contract out to our membership.
Also, I would like to thank all of our board members that helped our membership with questions that may have had with the contract.
The links below will provide information as to the legislation that passed in Annapolis this year in reference to the Maryland Police Accountability Act as well as other legislation tracked by the FOP. It also summarizes what bills will go into effect this year in October and those that go into effect on July 1, 2022.
There are provisions in our contract in article 16 that will remain in effect until our contract expires on June 30, 2023. If you have any questions about any specific provision that is not answered in the below material please call the lodge office and we will get you an answer.
Common misconceptions about The Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) have continued to spread and grow as police reform remains one of this legislative session’s prominent issues. For years, the Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4 has been committed to enforcing responsible policing and accountability across our county and state. Irresponsible policing is not a result of LEOBR, but rather, years of policy failures by management.
For example, methods like Broken Windows Policing, introduced in 1982, which argued that maintaining order by policing low-level offenses could prevent more serious crimes, incident-driven policing in the early 1990’s, and zero tolerance policing in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s (both implemented by legislative bodies and chiefs), have resulted in damaged relationships with the citizens officers are meant to protect.
To be clear, these decisions were not made by rank-and-file officers. They were conceived and enforced by those in command positions. Commanders draft all policies, strategies, and methods. As a result of many of these failed initiatives, law enforcement officers today are paying the price for antiquated policies they were required to enforce. Instead of blaming rank and file officers, commanders should be held accountable for many of the failures we are witnessing.
For additional context, the LEOBR was implemented in 1974 to prevent police chiefs from terminating officers indiscriminately for political expediency or personal bias – not to protect bad cops. We have seen examples of this in the recent lawsuit brought against the Maryland State Police by a group of African American officers. The LEOBR was implemented to expose unbiased truth in investigations, not to achieve a desired result. Simply put, the system is not broken. Today, agencies mismanage the process and then blame the LEOBR to cover for their broad incompetence. Eliminating the LEOBR in the name of police reform is a disservice to the overwhelming number of law enforcement officers who perform their duties honorably and professionally.
Police reform is essential. However, meaningful reform will not happen with the elimination of a fair, due process system with 47 years of case law to support it. It is, however, the implementation of practices that promote community engagement, conversation, and interaction between law enforcement and those they serve, that will promote positive change. The removal of this process will have unintended consequences. Already, too many good officers are choosing to resign, and others interested in serving suggest some level of discouragement or concern about joining the profession.
Officers are not perfect. Like all humans, they cannot operate under the expectation of perfection and infallibility. No one can. It’s time to come together to discuss how we can make real change. A solution can only be accomplished through honest dialogue around accountability, safety, and devotion to those we serve.
FOP Lodge #4
This a document that talks about the Maryland Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBR) and explains the purpose for the creation of the bill and guides you through the different sections of the LEOBR.
It will show the bills limitations and give facts to dispel the misinformation that has been spoken about in different media, social media and political formats. Please take a few moments to learn the truth about this landmark piece of legislation.
Brothers and Sisters,
As most of you are aware, the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR) is in danger of being eliminated this year in the Maryland General Assembly (MDGA). This statute gives you the right to fair due process when a complaint of misconduct has been made against you. Numerous Senators and delegates are working to repeal this provision in state law. Instead of having this structured fair process as outlined in the LEOBR, they are working on legislation that would give Police Chiefs and Sheriffs the absolute authority to discipline and/or terminate with out a fair hearing. The ACLU, in conjunction with the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association have seized this opportunity to attempt to eliminate what little due process you have and obtain more authority for themselves.
FOP Lodge 4 and other lodges across Maryland are working diligently to prevent this from occurring. The State FOP has contracted with a reputable Public Relations Firm to assist with traditional and social media platforms and messaging. We have the www.keepmarylandsafe.com website which has helped with over 40,000 emails being sent by our members to the representatives in the MDGA. We have had individual and group meetings with many senators and delegates. However, we need you and everyone you know to start calling each of the senators and delegates on our website and speak to them about the need for a fair disciplinary process.
Senate Bill 627 -LEOBR Repeal is scheduled to be voted out of committee this evening. Please contact your representative now.
FOP Lodge #4
Law enforcement officers dedicate their careers and risk their lives to protect Marylander’s across the state. It’s a job like no other—uniquely dangerous and challenging—requiring life and death split-second decisions. When you call us, we respond.
The Maryland General Assembly is considering legislation HB670 that takes away the fair due process afforded to those who risk their lives for your safety.
Please contact the legislators on the two committees below and tell them to oppose HB670 and as well as all other legislation that alters the LEOBR.
On January 19, 2021, the Department sent an email concerning the County Executive’s approval of 2 additional Diversity and Inclusion Floating Days off.
As you know, the amount of leave that members of the Department receive is covered by the terms of our MOU and any effort to change those terms needs to occur at the bargaining table. We are currently in bargaining with the County over the terms of the next MOU and have expressed to the County and the Department our dismay that this issue was not discussed with the FOP before the communication was sent. We expect to address this issue in those negotiations.