City po­lice to vote on new con­tract

Pro­posal calls for adding civil­ian mem­bers to over­sight boards

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Jes­sica An­der­son and Justin Fen­ton

Amid calls from the pub­lic and elected of­fi­cials for in­creased over­sight in po­lice mis­con­duct cases, a pro­posed con­tract agree­ment be­tween the city and the Bal­ti­more po­lice union would re­quire plac­ing two civil­ian vol­un­teers on over­sight re­view boards, along with three sworn of­fi­cers.

The change is in­cluded in a three-year ten­ta­tive agree­ment be­tween the city and Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 3, ac­cord­ing to a no­tice is­sued to union mem­bers Satur­day and pro­vided to The Bal­ti­more Sun by union mem­bers.

Other changes in­clude 3 per­cent an­nual raises for of­fi­cers and a re­turn to a shift sched­ule of five-day work weeks, com­posed of 8.5-hour shifts.

The no­tice says the union’s bar­gain­ing team unan­i­mously sup­ports the pro­posed deal. Rank and file mem­bers are sched­uled to vote on the pro­posal Nov. 13.

Newly elected union pres­i­dent Sgt. Michael Man­cuso de­clined to com­ment on the pro­posal Satur­day, and a spokesman for Mayor Cather­ine Pugh did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

If the con­tract is ap­proved, the change would be con­sid­ered a suc­cess for Pugh and ad­vo­cates who have sought for more civil­ian over­sight of po­lice.

Trial boards re­view the cases that are in­ves­ti­gated by the depart­ment’s in­ter­nal af­fairs unit. Such in­ves­ti­ga­tions are sep­a­rate from any crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The board can make rec­om­men­da­tions on dis­ci­pline, in­clud­ing whether an of­fi­cer should be fired, but ul­ti­mately the po­lice com­mis­sioner has fi­nal say.

Some have crit­i­cized that the cur­rent re­view process — con­ducted solely by peers — al­lows of­fi­cers to pro­tect their own.

Many of­fi­cials and ac­tivists have lob­bied to have civil­ians serve on the trial boards, and Pugh has agreed, pre­vi­ously call­ing the is­sue “non-ne­go­tiable” in con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Calls for more civil­ian over­sight were height­ened af­ter the tri­als of of­fi­cers charged and ac­quit­ted in the ar­rest and death of Fred­die Gray in 2015, and the fed­eral cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the depart­ment’s Gun Trace Task Force.

The Gen­eral Assem­bly pre­vi­ously passed mea­sures al­low­ing lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions to put civil­ians on trial boards, but un­til now the union has op­posed such re­forms in Bal­ti­more.

It’s un­clear whether the union will ap­prove of such a change. Some of­fi­cers have said res­i­dents are not qual­i­fied to un­der­stand the com­plex de­ci­sions po­lice are re­quired to make.

At the same time as adding civil­ians to the process, the pro­posal calls for re­duc­ing the role of se­nior com­man­ders. For of­fi­cers and sergeants, the pro­posal calls for a board con­sist­ing of some­one of the same rank, as well as a lieu­tenant and a com­man­der ranked cap­tain or above. The cur­rent makeup is an equally ranked per­son and two com­man­ders.

One of­fi­cer, who re­quested anonymity be­cause the depart­ment pro­hibits of­fi­cers from com­ment­ing on such mat­ters to the me­dia, pre­dicted Satur­day that re­ac­tion to the con­tract pro­posal would be over­whelm­ingly against.

“Ev­ery­one is heated,” the of­fi­cer said. “I’m sure on Nov. 13 this will get voted down.”Bal­ti­more po­lice of­fi­cers have been work­ing un­der a short-term con­tract since April that pro­vides a 3 per­cent pay raise and a $500 bonus.

The new pro­posal would in­clude a $1,000 rat­i­fi­ca­tion bonus and a 3 per­cent raise each fis­cal year un­til fis­cal year 2021. It also in­cludes $1,000 “pa­trol In­cen­tive” bonus for two years for any of­fi­cer who works pa­trol the en­tire fis­cal year.

A re­cent staffing study found that pa­trol po­si­tions have been un­der­staffed with a va­cancy rate of 26 per­cent.

The pro­posed con­tract would also cre­ate a 28-day pa­trol sched­ule of three shifts of eight hours and 33 min­utes each. Of­fi­cers would work five days, have off two, work five days and then have three off, ac­cord­ing to the ma­te­ri­als pro­vided to mem­bers.

The cur­rent shift struc­ture adopted in Jan­uary 2015, af­ter the city and union’s last round of con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions, cut 200 po­si­tions and gave 13 per­cent salary in­creases to of­fi­cers, with the ex­pec­ta­tion that it would help the depart­ment rein in over­time costs.

How­ever, the city has spent mil­lions on over­time to cover short­ages in pa­trol. The depart­ment spent $47.2 mil­lion on over­time in the fis­cal year that ended June 30, even though only $16 mil­lion was bud­geted.

The pro­posal could help re­duce over­time spend­ing but it’s not clear whether those sav­ings would be greater than the cost of the raises of­fi­cers are be­ing of­fered. The short term deal in April was es­ti­mated to cost $3.5 mil­lion.

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