COVID Testing Update 12/7/21

We continue to work with the County Administration on the implementation of the COVID Testing policy. There are still various issues of concern such as scheduling while working, testing at work location, etc. One area of concern that was brought to our attention was the consent form being presented to all Baltimore County Employees to sign before being tested.

The language causing concern on the “Informed Consent” form reads as follows:
“Personally identifiable specimens will not be used for research without your consent.”

When brought to the attention of the Administration, their ideal resolution was to remove the word “research”.

This was not acceptable.
After some conversation I recommended and the Administration agreed to remove the exisitng language and replace it with the following:
“No personal information obtained through this COVID testing program will be used for anything other than this COVID testing.”

This change should be in place immediately.

Dave Rose

2021 Election Results

On Monday evening, November 22, voting concluded in this year’s Election process. We’d like to thank our all who participated, voted, and/or sought election to an Office as well as our Election Committee for their diligence. The following are the tallies for the Offices to be held for the next two years, with an * indicating who secured that Office. Best of luck to all moving forward and THANK YOU to all who previously held these Offices.


*Dave Folderauer: 927
Dave Rose:            865

First Vice President

*Dave Sweren:  890
Ryan Massey:  889


*Bob Caskey:          975
Carroll Bollinger:  800

State Trustee

*Don Patterson:        911
Kathy Greenbeck:  823

Sergeant at Arms

*Chris Hodnicki:  980
Kathy Kraemer:  798

Board of Directors (Top 5)

*Joe Peach:  985
*Tom Scally:  864
*Doug Jess:  745
*Matt Krauch:  649
*Matt Gonzalez:  587
Greg Huber:  540
Joe Cohan:   531
Pat Zito:  523
Eli Visnick:  521
Josh List:  380
Brenna Vaughn:  271
Joe Barresi:   267
Shelly Knox:   261
Duane Holt:  230
Jason Garnek:  206
Kevin Jobe:  202

COVID -19 Policy Update 11/18/21

Tuesday morning, Baltimore County employees who have not communicated their vaccination status received the following email:

To date we have not received confirmation of your COVID-19 vaccination status. This letter is to inform you that you will be required to complete weekly COVID-19 testing beginning the week of November 29, 2021, through the County’s vendor, Five Medicine. Instructions for scheduling your weekly testing appointments with Five Medicine will be communicated this week.

However, if you have been vaccinated and wish to provide confirmation of your vaccination status, you may do so using the online PinPoint portal (use the link below).

You will be asked for basic information. You will need to enter the date(s) of your vaccination(s).

Upon completion, write down or take a screenshot of your confirmation registration number for future reference.

Or, you may provide your vaccination confirmation directly to the Office of Human Resources using the following steps:

·         You must provide “official” confirmation of your COVID-19 vaccination. We cannot accept a copy of your vaccination card. 

·         To obtain an official copy of your COVID-19 vaccination, visit one of the websites below:

o    If you are a MD resident, access your vaccination information at:

o    If you are a PA resident, you can access your vaccination information at:

·         Print a copy or take a screenshot of the official COVID-19 vaccination confirmation. 

·         Email a copy/or screenshot to: or hand deliver a copy to the Office of Human Resources at 308 Allegheny Ave., Towson, MD 21204, ATTN: Vaccination Verification/Testing Team. 

We must receive your COVID-19 vaccination confirmation by noon, Friday, November 19, 2021. If your COVID-19 vaccination confirmation is received, you will be removed from the COVID-19 weekly testing list.

If you have not received a COVID-19 vaccination, we encourage you to do so. COVID-19 vaccinations are available free of charge through the County Health Department.  

Visit the County website at: for convenient locations and schedules to make an appointment or walk-in.

If you have questions or need further clarification, please call 410-887-8299 (VAXX) or by email:

Thank you for your prompt attention and cooperation.


OHR Vax/Testing Team

Currently, we are still in discussions with the Administration on some key issues which need to be resolved. We have not reached an agreement on a policy.

This communication from the Administration or OHR Vax/Testing Team is simply communicating that if there is an agreement and testing does commence as they hope on 11/29/21, they must have your proof of vaccination by 11/19/21 if an employee wishes to be excluded from testing.

Also, we have not seen or approved the request for a saliva test or the religious/medical exemption forms.

When they do become available, we will let everyone know asap.

Dave Rose

One-third of Baltimore County employees haven’t reported mandated vaccination status

By Taylor DeVille Baltimore Sun | Nov 16, 2021 at 12:59 PM

About one-third of Baltimore County employees have not reported their vaccination status as Monday marked a deadline for the workers to get vaccinated or submit to weekly coronavirus testing.

As of Tuesday, the county says 66% of 9,288 full-time employees have shown proof of at least partial vaccination. That’s little more than the 61% of county employees estimated to have been vaccinated before the mandate was announced in September.

The figure is slightly higher than the county’s vaccination rate — 62% have reported receiving at least one dose, according to state data.

County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announced the requirement in September — at least one dose of the two-shot Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or mandatory testing — before pushing the deadline back a month to Nov. 15.

County spokesman Sean Naron said 44% of the Police Department’s 2,453 employees reported they’d gotten at least a partial dose. Of the Fire Department’s 1,114 employees, 55% have said they’re vaccinated, Naron said.

“The county is continuing outreach to encourage employees to report their vaccination status,” Naron said in an email.

But the weekly testing hasn’t begun. Naron said employees who have not submitted proof of vaccination will be required to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing beginning Nov. 29, despite the Nov. 15 deadline.

The county is still finalizing testing locations, but they will be conducted inside county buildings by an outside vendor, Naron said.

Dave Rose, president of the Baltimore County Police FOP Lodge 4, said the union is still negotiating with the county to address “unanswered questions,” Rose said, like what happens if an employee refuses testing, how leave time factors in when an individual is made to quarantine, and why only the unvaccinated would be required to submit to testing when a fraction of those who are vaccinated are still contracting COVID-19.

“We gotta make it work for us,” Rose said. “Not only the FOP, but all labor, countywide.”

John Ripley, president of the Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees Local 4883, did not respond to a request for comment.

Vaccinated county employees were asked to report they’d received a vaccine through an online portal or by sharing information directly with the Department of Human Resources, Naron said.

The coronavirus pandemic had killed 1,800 county residents as of Nov. 12.

COVID-19 Testing Update 11/5/21

Today we met with the county administration to discuss their Testing Policy proposal. This is the first document we have received since ours was sent to them on September 23, 2021. Since that time we have had testing pushed back to November 1, 2021 and again to what appears to be a target date of November 29, 2021.

There is still no mandate to be vaccinated or disclose your vaccination status. If the employee chooses to not be vaccinated or disclose his/her vaccination status, there is a testing requirement. This disclosure was initially an issue with the PinPoint system for some members. The PinPoint system is still an option but we have worked with the administration to develop other options.

Employees who do not wish to submit their vaccination status through the PinPoint system may submit vaccination verification directly to OHR. To verify vaccination status, employees can use PA based employees can use

Employees may email their proof of vaccination to These files must be sent from each employee’s county email. Alternatively, employees may also hand-deliver a copy of their vaccination verification directly to the Office of Human Resources (OHR) located at 308 Allegheny Avenue Towson, Maryland 21204.

The county has contracted with a vendor, Five Medicines, to conduct testing. We are still working out the logistics of testing but it appears as though every effort is being made to make it available on site at different facilities around the clock and at no cost to the employee.

At this moment, unvaccinated employees must fulfill their testing requirement during their normal work schedule by obtaining a test provided by the Vendor at their designated testing location. There will be a requirement for testing once per week. We have communicated the memberships’ view on testing for both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

The primary type of test that will be given will be a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. In discussions with the administration about testing, we also communicated the members concerns about the nasal swab testing. As a result, employees that do not wish to utilize the nasal swab PCR test will have the option to elect a saliva-based test, also administered by the Vendor. Employees may elect the saliva-based test by completing a saliva-based test accommodation request form and submitting it to OHR. OHR shall make the accommodation form available to employees upon request. We have not yet seen a draft of that form but will review it.

The medical, religious and other waiver forms will be available shortly for our review.

There was a lot of conversation about administrative leave. This is an area of concern. We continue to push for administrative leave to remain as it was during the past year. We are also requesting that those who were told not to come to work since July 9, 2021 up until now, have any leave used be converted to administrative leave. The administration said they will review those instances and have discussion and get back to us.

We still have areas of this testing policy to work out before it is put into place. The administration has worked with and listened to our concerns. However, we continue to stress this process is both costly, stressful to employees and unnecessary based on current positivity rates.

Again, as we get additional information we will get it out to the membership.


Dave Rose

Labor Relations Information System – Vaccine Mandate Podcast

LRIS First Thursday Podcast on vaccine mandates

This podcast provides a national update of vaccine mandate/policies across the country and updates on over 50 court cases and decisions. LRIS conducts training nationally to police and fire unions across the country. As always, this is being provided for information purposes only.

President’s Message – COVID Testing Update 10/26/21

This afternoon Ryan Massey, Mike DiCara and I had a meeting with all the labor groups and the county administration regarding COVID-19 testing.

There was a short presentation by the vendor, Five Medicines. According to the presentation they are looking at approximately 70 testing sites to include, police and fire facilities, 911 center, corrections and others. The testing would be at no cost to the employee and available during your work shift. At this time it appears as though the earliest testing may begin is the week of December 1, 2021.

This was a basic presentation and not a negotiation. There are still details regarding site feasibility that has to be worked out.  All other details will still have to be negotiated with the labor groups. We are working on scheduling a date and time to continue talks. We did however, communicate to the administration we would be in opposition to any tests that uses any known carcinogens. Fact Sheet

The uploading of employee vaccination status is still voluntary.

We will continue to pass on any additional information as it becomes available.

Dave Rose

COVID – 19 Update 10/25

An email was sent out by the County this morning in reference to COVID registration. It states:

If you have not yet submitted your vaccination information, use the link below to submit your verification:

NOTE: Remember to write down or take a screenshot of your confirmation registration number. You will need this number in the future.

We must receive your vaccination registration information by 12 NOON Friday, October 29th.

If we do not receive a response from you by the deadline your name will be added to the list to begin mandatory on site weekly COVID testing after November 15th.

If you have any questions or need further clarification please contact the Vax/Testing Verification Team at 410 887-8299 or you can reply back to this email. Thank you for your prompt attention.

The Vax/Testing Verification Team
Baltimore County Department of Human Resources

Be advised, we have not reached an agreement on any testing procedure. There is a presentation on 10/26/21 from the County to the employee groups. However, we do not have any agreement and at this time nothing is mandatory for anyone to take any action on anything unless you choose to do so.

Once we have additional information we will pass it along.

Dave Rose

President’s Message – Payroll and Leave

Tuesday afternoon several personnel issues were brought to my attention that needed to be addressed immediately. A tenured personnel analyst in our Police Department’s OHR had been out of work for several weeks. The analyst contacted the agency Monday morning and notified the OHR Director that she would not be returning to the workplace. This analyst handles our members military leave, FMLA and other types of leave management. Due to the shortages of personnel throughout the agency, including in OHR, many analysts are assigned certain tasks exclusively. In this case, no one else handles these leave issues, so the necessary work was not being completed. We have members who have returned or are trying to return from military leave and finding it very difficult to do so. As many of you are aware, this type of leave can be very time sensitive.

In discussions with Colonel Delp Tuesday afternoon, he conveyed to me that OIT was gaining access to this former analyst’s email so we can determine what must be done to resolve these pay and leave issues. He then went on to explain the difficulties the unit is having just getting the bare minimum work done due to staffing shortages.

Tuesday night I contacted Chief Hyatt and made her aware of this current problem, and further discussed other ongoing problems with Police OHR. We all know the people in this unit work very hard and do the best they can, but they are severely understaffed.  Our members have been more than patient however and are tired of the Agency’s excuses. We need our leave and payroll markings to be correct and up to date. It should not take months to resolve an issue with a leave marking or issue our members their P days or F time. Our members and supervisors in the field are held accountable for the work they need to complete, why is this any different?

Today we will continue to work through this issue, and any other issue we discover. If anyone is having a problem with their military leave, other leave related to military orders, or FMLA, please send me an email with the details so I can direct it to the appropriate person. I would also encourage all members to continue checking their leave printouts and pay stubs regularly to ensure their accuracy, and to forward me any problems they discover.


Dave Rose

Baltimore County 2021 Murder Rate Could Set Record

As appeared in the Peake, October 19, 2021 issue
by Devin Crum

This could be the deadliest year on record in Baltimore County if homicides continue to pile up at the current rate for the rest of 2021. Though the county has experienced an increase in homicides each year since the “historic” low in 2013, a record high 49 murders were recorded in 2019. That total topped the previous record of 43 in 1992. But with 44 homicides tallied so far in 2021, as of October 15, and still more than two months left in the calendar year, Baltimore County is expected to exceed the pre-pandemic murder rate. Data available on the county’s website shows that, as of August 31, six of those homicides had occurred in the Peake’s coverage area with three murders occurring in Essex, two in Middle River and one in White Marsh. 

Dave Rose, president of Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4, warned on September 29 — when the tally stood at 42 — the county’s total could increase by more than a dozen if the current homicide rate holds steady through the remainder of the year. “We could be looking at another 13,” he said. In 2019, about one-third of the year’s homicides occurred in the final quarter of the year from October through December, according to crime data on the county’s website.

Flurry of Incidents
Baltimore County Police Department Spokeswoman Joy Stewart would not say how or if the local police force is preparing for a possible flurry of lethal incidents typical during the final three months of the year. But County Executive John Olszewski Jr. said he remains committed to constantly updating violence prevention strategies to keep neighborhoods safe and doing whatever is necessary to ensure Baltimore County remains a safe place to live, work and raise a family. “Jurisdictions across the country have seen tragic increases in violence this year and we have, unfortunately, seen similar trends in our own communities,” Olszewski said in an emailed statement, adding that the county has experienced “significant mental health-related violence, including two shocking mass shootings.” Just eight years ago, Baltimore County recorded an “historic low” of 19 homicides which officials said was the fewest since Jimmy Carter was president. Then-County Executive Kevin Kamenetz touted it as a success for policing, investigation and prosecution techniques and a sign that the county was “safer than it has ever been.”

‘Data is clear’
Stewart recently pointed to factors such as mental health and domestic disputes to explain the higher numbers of homicides seen so far this year. “The data is very clear,” she said, noting that 23 percent of the county’s homicides this year have involved a behavioral health component and another 40 percent resulted either from arguments that escalated into violence or during domestic disputes. Those also are factors that have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic and the associated decrease in access to counseling and other resource services. “That’s 63 percent of homicides falling into these categories. These are trends we’ve not seen before,” she said, noting that other large jurisdictions are reporting some of these trends as well.

Short-lived trend
But while the pandemic may be a contributing factor to the higher murder numbers this year, it does not explain why 2019’s total was more than double that of 2013 or why homicides have been increasing in the years between. The historic low and the general downward trend to that point were short-lived. Homicides jumped by six in 2014 and by five more each of the following two years, held steady at 35 in 2017 before falling again to 27 in 2018, and spiked in 2019. The county’s five-year average for homicides also has increased each year since 2014, from 23.4 that year to 35.8 in 2020. Stewart did not offer any explanation for the upward trend seen in the years prior to the pandemic.

‘Better Behaved’
However, FOP President Rose said one factor contributing to the higher homicide rate in recent years is the reduction in the level of enforcement resulting from the police department’s diminished officer ranks and high number of personnel vacancies. During the first eight months of 2021, 107 officers have retired and another 31 have resigned, according to Stewart. That compares to a combined 80 such departures in 2020 and an average of about 81 for each of the five years prior. From 2015 – 2019, BCoPD never had more than 102 combined retirements and resignations in a single year. “If you’re out arresting repeat violent offenders, then they’re not out in society with the ability to commit more crimes and possibly homicides,” Rose said, adding that having more police on the street in communities also can result in would-be criminals being better behaved. “Or there is a greater chance they could be apprehended for a lesser crime before the situation escalates to homicide,” he said. However, Rose admitted, “it’s luck of the draw” because it is difficult to know what effect policing has directly on a homicide rate.

‘More Respectful’
For instance, if someone with no criminal record kills another in the heat of a domestic dispute, Rose admitted, “I don’t know that you could ever prevent that. But someone who has done multiple armed robberies with a weapon, those crimes tend to escalate.”  Still, he added, “You may be able to get that person off the street but you’ll never be able to prove that you prevented that murder.” Also, the police union leader said today’s policing techniques and the public’s attitudes toward police are pointedly different today than they were in 2013. “People were policing differently and people were more respectful of police authority,” he said. “I don’t think you can say that [officers are] comfortable with being as assertive as they were in their enforcement actions. I know we’re making 1,000 less arrests per month [now] than we were in 2010.”

Police Based Initiative
In response to the spike in homicides this year, Stewart said BCoPD is focused on data-driven strategies. “On a weekly basis, commanders meet to discuss patterns and trends of crime and there is discussion on where to place resources and deployment,” she said. “As we experience an increase with people in a behavioral health crisis, the department is partnering with other community entities and stakeholders to ensure the best services are provided at the appropriate time.” One of those partnering communities is Essex. “Preventing these types of incidents cannot be done by law enforcement alone, which was why we have already taken action to expand behavioral health support,” Olszewski added in his statement. “Meanwhile, we have also launched a multi-departmental, place-based initiative in the Essex community — a community which has historically faced unique public safety challenges.”

Out of Control
Leah Biddinger, president of the Sussex Community Association in Essex, said while Essex is routinely one of the busiest areas in the county when it comes to police calls for service, and despite having three homicides in the area so far this year, murder is relatively uncommon. “I don’t think we’re seeing a spike in homicides in this area,” she said. “We’ve had drug overdoses and shootings but we haven’t had homicides, thankfully.” Just outside of Sussex, on Back River Neck Road, two homicides did take place in March when Essex resident Joshua Green shot and killed two women at a Royal Farms after killing his parents in their home in Baldwin, one of the county’s two mass shootings this year. Biddinger said crime, in general, is getting “out of control” but that it has a lot to do with “just the state of the country right now.” Additionally, she admitted there is no shortage of crime in Essex but attributed much of it as overflow from Baltimore City. “There’s so much unchecked in the city that people just do what they want here,” she said. “They feel like they can.” As of October 15, Baltimore City’s homicide total stood at 265, on pace to top last year’s total and to record more than 300 murders for the seventh year in a row, since 2015 when the city’s population was 7.5 percent larger. The city reported 335 homicides in 2020, 348 in 2019 and 309 in 2018.

Motions from the Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4 General Membership meeting on September 27, 2021 in opposition to County Administration’s Vaccine and Testing Program.

Please Click here to read the motions.

President’s Message – Police Involved Shootings resulting in Death or Likely Death – New Policy

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

Dave Rose

President’s Message – Retirement System COLA

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’….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 

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