President’s Message – A Breaking Point

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.

Non-competitive Benefits

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officers receive smaller pensions and fewer retirement options than their peers, but they are also asked to work with outdated and failing equipment that is unsuitable for policing today.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.

Dave Rose
President
Baltimore County
FOP Lodge #4

President’s Message – Maury Road Incident

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.

Dave Rose
President, FOP Lodge #4

Contract Ratification Results

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.

Fraternally
Dave Rose
President

 

Final Reports and Summary of Legislation on Police Reform

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.

2021 MPAA – Full Summary 4-12-21

2021 MPAA – Indexed Summary 4-14-21

2021 FOP Report final report Edited 04-14-21-1

Final Summary of 2021 Session for FOP

Due Process Comparison Chart

President’s Message – Blame Failed Policy and Management, Not the LEOBR

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.

Dave Rose
President
FOP Lodge #4

 

Fact Sheet About the Maryland Law Enforcement Bill of Rights (LEOBR)

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.

Community Conversation and Reference Guide -Part 3 – Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights

President’s Message – Annapolis Update – LEOBR

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.

Fraternally,

Dave Rose
President
FOP Lodge #4

Please Contact these Legislators and Tell Them To Support Law Enforcement

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.

House Judiciary Committee Members- 2021

Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Members- 2021

The State FOP Needs your Help to Protect the LEOBR

As you know, the 2021 Maryland General Assembly session is underway. State FOP leadership has had daily discussions with the Senate and House leadership, our legal team, lobbyists, public relations firm, community stakeholders, and the State Lodge Legislative Committee. Additionally, we have already testified, or written opposition letters, on several proposed pieces of legislation.
Due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pending fight to protect our members from misguided police reforms, the Legislative Committee started earlier than usual this year. We are actively tracking numerous bills which you can find on our website.
As of today, there are a total of 741 bills filed in the House and 573 in the Senate. Police reform bills continue to be filed at a rapid pace. Today, House “leadership sponsored” police reform bills, HB670, Repeal of the LEOBR and HB671, Disclosure of Police Discipline Records, were introduced. It is imperative that we start our messaging campaign now.
We have enlisted the services of a public relations firm to assist with the creation of digital and radio advertisements, a specialized website aimed at supporting sensible police reforms, and a messaging campaign for FOP members. We must solicit the help of our family and friends to help spread our message. We want them to help tell our story via social media channels and, in the process, use specific “hashtags” to help humanize our profession.
Part of our strategy is to use social media platforms to guide community members and legislators towards the overwhelmingly positive aspects of the law enforcement community and toward our new “tagline:” #KeepMarylandSafe. We ask each of you to talk to your family, friends and associates and encourage them to participate.
Our new KeepMarylandSafe.com website is live and it will serve as an outlet for news and information pertinent to our agenda. The website will relay FOP positions on proposed legislation, and will provide an avenue to easily contact legislators with predetermined FOP messages of support or opposition.
Shortly after the filing of these police reform bills, the Maryland State Lodge will produce specific talking points for each of you to discuss with your local stakeholders. Our expectation is that the  police reform bills will will move quickly. Because the legislature is intent on expedient rather than quality reforms, this legislative process could be over within 30 days of the bill filings.
Make no mistake… this will be a hard fight! The current desire of many within the legislature is to completely repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. Part of our strategy is to pressure legislators through direct contact, and to wage a full-scale messaging campaign from FOP members, associates and concerned citizens. If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas do not hesitate to contact the lodge for assistance.

 

Diversity and Inclusion Days

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.

 

Protecting the mental health of Maryland police officers

The FOP is SUPPORTING this Bill

By: Capital News Service Jacob Steinberg January 21, 2021

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland police officers who are dealing with stressors — such as family issues, substance abuse or mass protests — will have access to confidential mental health aid under a bill progressing in the state Legislature.

The Police Officers Mental Health Employee Assistance Program, sponsored by Del. Benjamin Brooks, D-Baltimore County, and Sen. Mary Washington, D-Baltimore, would require each law enforcement agency to provide its officers with access to an employee assistance or mental health program at a minimal cost to the officer.

These employee assistance programs include confidential counseling services, crisis counseling, stress management counseling and peer support services for police officers.

“One in four police officers have thought about committing suicide at one point in their career,” Brooks told Capital News Service.

An important component of these employee assistance programs focuses on protecting police officers’ mental health during periods of public demonstration and unrest.

Looking out for police officers’ mental health during those periods is now more prevalent than ever, as protests have increased throughout the United States over the past year.

Currently, an Employee Assistance Program, administered through the Department of Budget and Management, is only offered to state employees.

However, this bill would mandate similar programs in every law enforcement agency throughout Maryland, allowing police officers in local municipalities around the state to receive mental health assistance if necessary.

“It doesn’t matter whether your police department is 25 people or 400 people,” Washington said.

While providing police officers mental health resources is a key priority, so is ensuring the confidentiality that comes along with accepting those services.

“Confidentiality is the biggest thing with mental health,” Dr. Annette Hanson, joint legislative committee chair for the Maryland Psychiatric Society and Washington Psychiatric Society, told Capital News Service.

Confidentiality is vital when it comes to mental health because it’s become such a highly stigmatized issue — particularly in fields like the military and law enforcement.

Under this bill, police officers would receive the help they need, and avoid potential repercussions from the department or fellow officers.

“It makes our law enforcement officers feel that they’re more than a badge, that they’re human,” Lt. Marc Junkerman of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, said in support of HB088 at a Tuesday hearing.

Before initially introducing the bill last year, Brooks  began to conduct research as he came across some information about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

A Vietnam War veteran, Brooks was aware of PTSD, but he began learning more about the startling statistics related to police officers and mental health struggles.

In 2019, 228 police officers died by suicide compared to 172 officers the year before, according to Blue H.E.L.P. an organization dedicated to reducing the stigma around mental health.

Not only do these mental health challenges affect the police officers, but their family members can also be greatly affected as well.

Last year, a police officer’s wife approached Washington and explained the challenges that family members deal with when their partner is experiencing mental health issues.

Some of these challenges can include the officers exhibiting a change in behavior — possibly turning violent or turning to alcohol and other sources as coping mechanisms for the traumas they’ve faced.

To mitigate some of these familial challenges, under this program family members can report to the employee assistance program if they feel their spouse or parent is in need of mental health assistance.

Brooks and Washington initially introduced this bill last year, when it passed through the House unanimously but failed in the Senate because the 2020 session ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“When the officer goes to my door or my neighbor’s door, I just want them to be whole,” Brooks said.

Md. Senate bill would permit disclosure of police misconduct probes

The FOP is OPPOSED to this Bill

By: Steve Lash Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer January 21, 2021
Saying the legislation would help uncover law enforcement’s bad apples, a Baltimore state senator urged her colleagues Thursday to pass legislation that would remove documents relating to police misconduct investigations from the list of “personnel records” automatically exempt from disclosure under the Maryland Public Information Act.
Sen. Jill P. Carter said her bill was spurred by the alleged in-police-custody killing of a 19-year-old Black man by Eastern Shore police officers, including one who was allegedly hired despite a record of violent conduct in earlier law enforcement jobs. Carter, a Democrat, has dubbed her legislation Anton’s Law in honor of the victim, Anton Black.

Removing misconduct investigations from MPIA’s personnel records exemption would subject details of an officer’s actions to public scrutiny and prevent misbehaving officers from finding continued employment in law enforcement, Carter told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, on which she sits.

“It should not require a special investigation … for the public to learn of misconduct and coverups within police departments,” Carter said. “Sadly, this is the case routinely.”

Black’s 2018 death while handcuffed and prone was eerily similar to George Floyd’s last spring under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Floyd’s death touched off nationwide protests and calls for police reform, while Black’s has drawn far less publicity beyond the towns of Greensboro, Ridgely and Centreville, which had police officers involved in the killing, according to the family’s lawsuit against the police and towns.

The lawsuit, filed last month in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, alleges the police officers’ use of excessive and deadly force violated Black’s constitutional right against unreasonable seizures. In addition, the lawsuit claims that the Greensboro Police Department negligently hired officer Thomas Webster IV despite a record of violence in his career.

Under the proposed Anton’s Law, Senate Bill 178, each police department’s custodian of the requested documents would retain discretion under the MPIA to deny the information request if disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, interfere with an investigation, endanger an individual’s life or reveal a confidential source.

Speaking in support of the bill, an ACLU of Maryland attorney said permitting the discretionary disclosure of police misconduct investigations would  be “an absolutely necessary first step” toward addressing “the veil of secrecy” surrounding them

Without passage of Anton’s Law, police departments can tell people seeking documents of a misconduct investigation that they cannot be released because they are personnel records and that those seeking the information should “trust us. We did the right thing,” David Rocah told the committee.

“That is not an acceptable state of affairs … and not a way to create or maintain trust” in the police, said Rocah, a senior attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Maryland chapter.

David Morris, on behalf of Maryland police chiefs and sheriffs associations, told the committee that the personnel records exception is too strict in that investigations of police shootings and use of force resulting in death or serious injury are of significant public concern and should be disclosable subject to the department’s statutory discretion.

However, investigations of officer misconduct short of gunfire or serious injury should still qualify as nondisclosable personnel records unless the complaint has been sustained, Morris said.

“It is equally important that we protect the reputations of the officers from frivolous types of complaints,” Morris added. “We need to protect the reputations of the officers from secondary dissemination of those types of reports.”

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger also endorsed the disclosure of police misconduct investigations that have been sustained by the department. He said “mere allegations” of misconduct should remain protected from disclosure as a personnel record.

But Sen. Charles E. Sydnor III, a committee member, said permitting unsustained complaints to escape public disclosure and scrutiny would have well-served Bull Connor, whose tenure as public safety commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s was marked by police brutality against Blacks, whose complaints he rejected.

“The bad apples would be allowed to continue on,” said Sydnor, D-Baltimore County.

Carter cited reports from civil rights groups, including the ACLU of Maryland, that an overwhelming majority of complaints of police misconduct in Maryland are not sustained —  including allegations of harassment and false imprisonment —  and would therefore not be disclosable under the proposal offered by Morris and Shellenberger.

“The devil, all of the abuse and all of the ugliness, is actually in that large body of unsustained complaints because too many law enforcement agencies, when they conduct these investigations in secret, don’t have to disclose any of it and so this is why so many complaints go unsustained.”

Webster is a named defendant in the lawsuit with Ridgely Police Chief Dennis Manos and Centreville police officer Dennis Lannon – the three officers who allegedly seized Black on Sept. 15, 2018. Another defendant is former Greensboro Police Chief Michael Petyo for his allegedly negligent hiring of Webster.

The Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission decertified Webster as a police officer in July 2019 after its investigation revealed nearly 30 “use of force “ incidents from Webster’s time in Dover, Delaware, that were not disclosed on his police application in Maryland.

Petyo, who quit his police post during the state’s investigation of Webster, pleaded guilty in 2019 to misconduct in office for having lied on Webster’s application for certification.

Caroline County Circuit Judge Paul M. Bowman sentenced Petyo to two years in prison, all suspended, and three years’ supervised probation.

Black died from positional asphyxia, according to the complaint. However, the state medical examiner’s office attributed Black’s death to a congenital heart defect and his mental health issues.

The complaint said the medical examiner’s finding was erroneous and led to Caroline County State’s Attorney Joseph Riley’s decision in January 2019 not to prosecute the officer’s for homicide.

The case is docketed at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore as Jennell Black et al. v. Thomas Webster IV et al., No. 1:20-cv-03644-CCB.

Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4 mobile APP is now active!

Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4 now has an APP!  We will be using this as another way to quickly and effectively communicate with the membership.  We have partnered with the National FOP and used their platform. You can access it by going to the National FOP APP and search for Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4 .

Please download it and take advantage of the different resources that are available on the platform.

 

FOP Retired Law Enforcement Concealed Carry Coverage

The current HR-218 Plan coverage will be replaced with the FOP Retired Law Enforcement Concealed Carry Legal Defense Coverage (CCC). The expanded coverage will offer Unlimited Legal Defense for civil and criminal claims associated with the legal carrying and/or use of a weapon: all reasonable and necessary Legal Defense Costs are now covered in full when using a Plan Attorney. This new expanded Plan will provide coverage not only for those retirees who were qualified under LEOSA, but also those retirees who are qualified under their own state laws to carry a concealed weapon.

To submit a CCC Application, please fill out the form at the link above. You will receive your ID card, plan booklet and certificate of participation within 30 days after the approval of your application.

Information on the coverage can be found by clicking on the link above or on our FOP Lodge #4 website Under LEOSA.

This is not automatic coverage. You must enroll to be covered. Members in the existing HR218 coverage plan will be covered under the new plan until renewal.