Exodus in Police Ranks Reaches ‘Breaking Point’….As appeared in the Country Chronicle, September 2021 issue

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.

Diminished presence
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.

Overtime hours
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.

Anti-police sentiment
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.”

Recruitment campaign
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 devin.crum114@gmail.com. 

Nationwide Retirement Webinars

We receive questions about a variety of retirement issues. We have worked with our Deferred Compensation plan provider, Nationwide to develop a webinar to give members an opportunity to hear what opportunities are available and to ask questions. Please use this opportunity to sign up at a time most convenient for you.

Whether you’re a few months or a few years from your retirement date, you may already be thinking about what you should be doing to prepare.  Knowing how you want to live in retirement can help you determine:

  • How to arrange retirement plan payouts
  • Whether your resources will provide enough income
  • How to help your 457(b) account catch up with your dreams

Let us help you understand your options so you can bring your retirement plans to life. 

DateTimeRegistration
Sept. 14, 2021      11:00am – 12:30pmSign up here
Sept. 14, 2021    5:00 – 6:30pmSign up here
Sept. 16, 2021      11:00am – 12:30pmSign up here
Sept. 16, 2021            5:00-6:30pmSign up here

Uniform Secondary


Beth Tfiloh Community School
3300 Old Court Road, 21208
Pay: $35 an hour
Contact Person: Jesus Saucedo 443-307-1430 or my email Jesus6585@gmail.com

Shifts: 7:30am-10:30am
           1:30pm-5:30pm or 2pm-6pm

Employment Opportunity – Security

Defender One Security is looking to hire Active Baltimore County Police Officers for Uniformed Secondary Employment located in Cockeysville (PC7) at the Office of Administrative Hearings.  The compensation is $32/HR, and the hours are 8:30AM-3:30PM Monday through Friday. We are looking to hire ASAP.
If interested, and for more details regarding this position, please contact Jon N. Krieger (retired Baltimore County Police Officer) directly at 410-404-5293, or email to Jon@defenderonesecurity.com.

COVID-19 Q & A’s Employers and Vaccine Mandates

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

Employment Opportunity – MES-Lawmen Supply Company

I am looking to hire a sales representative in the Baltimore, Carrol, Harford and Cecil counties. I prefer to hire retired police officers as they already know all the police equipment that we sell. Our company offers a competitive salary and uncapped commission. Our benefits include cell phone and vehicle plans along with benefits and a 401K. The accounts are already established, and a senior sales rep would train whomever we onboard.

I just retired after 30 years of service in Camden NJ and a member of FOP Lodge 218, the one thing I would say about this job is it is not a typical retirement job that cops talk about. We need someone that is personable, motivated, works independently and navigate a computer.

I hope you don’t mind me reaching out to you for assistance, but this opportunity can really help one of your recently retired members. Would you be able to put the word out to your membership? I can come down to meet with you if necessary

My contact information is below. A flyer is attached if you think it would be helpful.

Stay safe,
Joe Wysocki
Vice President, Law Enforcement
MES-Lawmen Supply Company
Chief of Police, Retired
Camden County Police Department
Cell:  856-417-2108
Joseph.Wysocki@Lawmensupply.com

MES-Lawmen

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

Employment Opportunity – Security

Signal 88 Security-Baltimore is looking to hire 10-15 Baltimore County Police Officers for Uniformed Secondary Employment (USE) work at Walmarts throughout Baltimore County, MD.  The compensation is $33/hour with most holidays paid at $49.50 (OT).  The hours vary 7 days a week at 8 Walmarts and 2 Sam’s Clubs located in Baltimore County.

If interested, and for more details regarding this position, please contact Rob Rayner (active Baltimore County Police Officer) directly at 410-456-7937, or email to rrayner@signal88.com

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

Employment Opportunities: Court Security

Here is a link to the US Marshals Service page about the Court Security Officer (CSO) program https://www.usmarshals.gov/judicial/court_security_officer.htm

As these are all contractor positions the vendor for the local area is Paragon Systems, they handle the 4th Circuit (MD, VA, WV & NC), the 3rd Circuit (PA, NJ, DE) and the federal court houses in DC. The link to their page is https://careers.parasys.com/home#working-here

This is not a bad job for a retiree who wants to keep working.

 

Employment Opportunity – Security

Defender One Security is looking to hire 3-4 Active Baltimore County Police Officers for Uniformed Secondary Employment located in Cockeysville (PC7).  The compensation is $32/HR, and the hours are 8:30AM-3:30PM Monday through Friday. We are looking to hire ASAP for the June schedule.

If interested, and for more details regarding this position, please contact Jon N. Krieger (retired Baltimore County Police Officer) directly at 410-404-5293, or email to Jon@defenderonesecurity.com.

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

Employment Opportunity Elizabethtown Police Department

My name is Ed Cunningham, and I’m the Chief of the Elizabethtown Police Department (Lancaster County, PA). I am also a long-time (now retired) member of the Pittsburgh Police FOP Fort Pitt Lodge #1.  We currently have job openings in our agency.  All of the information, as well as the application, can be found at www.policeapp.com/elizabethtownpa. The application deadline is 7 May 21.

Also, I’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have about the job or department.

Thank you, and have a great day!

Chief Ed Cunningham, MS

Chief of Police

Elizabethtown Police

600 South Hanover Street

Elizabethtown, PA 17022

717-367-6540 x251 (voice)

717-367-2332 (fax)

717-367-1835 (county dispatch)