Category: President’s Blog

July 11, 2018

To: Editorial Staff, Baltimore Sun

In your recent Editorial (“Monthly City Council meetings on police overtime are about 15 years overdue”, July 9, 2018) you very correctly named all of the fiscal years that ended with an inordinate amount of overtime spending by the Baltimore Police Department. We fully agree with your belief that 15 years of these huge overages requires that the Department’s disbursements must be audited and more tightly controlled.

What we cannot accept, however, is your premise that there is a toxic “culture of overtime” in the Department. That statement seems to blame our members for much of the problem and, to a certain extent, insinuates that our greediness is the reason that the City must dig itself out of this hole year after year. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. We know, as well as anyone, that there are a few bad apples in blue uniforms who have learned to abuse the overtime system and we commend the Department and the City for anything they can implement to stop such abuses. But to say that there is an ethos in our community that encourages and tolerates overtime abuses goes above and beyond the truth.

Like most Americans who work to support their families and educate their children, our members are no different. Yes, overtime pay does make it a bit easier, in many cases and, yes, we do have a few members who work extraordinary amounts of overtime as is exhibited each year when The Sun publishes its list of the highest paid Baltimore City employees. What we do not have, however, is a general philosophy that overtime is there for our benefit and should be used whenever possible. In fact, while the overtime costs might be rising, our members are spending less and less time with their own families; a situation they would rather not be in despite the money they might be making. In many cases, these extra hours worked are no longer voluntary but are mandatory to keep Patrol shifts at a required minimum number of officers.

No, ladies and gentlemen of the Sunpaper Editorial Staff, we are not the cause of the ever-rising increase in BPD overtime spending. We are the working stiffs who must pull off on the side of the road to catch a nap on the way home, so we don’t kill ourselves or others, after working 15 hours straight, often more than once in a four-day period.

The Baltimore City Council is right to meet regularly to attempt to control the situation and when they do, we can promise that the fault will not rest with our members but rather with the poor management and planning of the BPD. We, unfortunately at this point, are as much a victim as are the City taxpayers who must foot the bill.

Sincerely,
Lt. Gene Ryan
President, Baltimore City FOP, Lodge #3

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Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 has repeatedly warned that the Baltimore Police Department is critically understaffed. Baltimore City has recorded 161 homicides so far in 2017 – a record number of homicides ever during the first six months of the year. In reaction to this surge in violence, and in particular the recent six homicides over a 24-hour period, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis cancelled leave and placed our officers on 12-hour tours of duty to stem the violence. This, however, is merely a stopgap measure and not a long term plan of action, a plan to fight crime that the Baltimore Police Department still doesn’t have in place.

The FOP is committed to the safety of our police officers as well as the citizens of Baltimore who we serve. In January of this year, FOP President Gene Ryan warned that the city was at a “tipping point” in fighting violent crime due to the critical understaffing of uniformed officers assigned to patrol the city’s neighborhoods. The police commissioner found those comments to be offensive and the FOP was ignored. As of June 20, 2017, there are an additional twenty¬≠three (23) full-time police officers assigned to patrol than there were in January.

Our police officers are repeatedly being drafted and forced to work additional hours to fill the shortage in patrol and patrol shifts are still going out under strength. The citizens of Baltinore deserve better service – every neighborhood should have their fair contingent of uniformed officers assigned to patrol their homes and schools. In turn our officers are fatigued and morale continues to decline. This in turn leads to the continued exodus of some of our best and youngest police officers to other agencies. The Baltimore Police Department cannot hire enough officers to match this attrition and until they admit this, and admit to their own failure in properly managing the agency and crime fight, the city will continue to see a surging crime rate.

In response to this crime crisis and uniform patrol shortage, the FOP will be going out in the community to meet with the neighborhood councils and discuss our mutual concerns. The FOP will request an opportunity to engage the Greater Baltimore Committee and other business leaders to hear how the lack of a crime plan is hurting the economy. Finally, the FOP will reach out to members of the City Council to schedule one on one discussions.

It’s time for action. We cannot sit back and continue to allow a surging crime rate destroy the good work our police officers and law abiding citizens have accompfished in years prior. The FOP looks forward to remaining a partner in this crime fight and telling the truth about what is and what isn’t happening inside the Baltimore Police Department.

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For Immediate Release
May 23, 2017

The allegations against the six police officers have been thoroughly litigated time and time again. All of the evidence has been presented to multiple fact finders who have decided that these officers did nothing wrong. The administrative charges are nothing more than that – they are charges. We have no reason to believe that the results of a fair trial board will be any different than the result of all 27 of the criminal counts which uniformly rejected any wrongdoing on the part of the officers.

The far more troubling truth is that the citizens of Baltimore should be outraged at their leaders. Crime is at an all time high, while arrests and convictions are at an all time low. The administrative prosecution of the officers will do nothing more than perpetuate a police force hesitant to exercise judgment when interacting with the public. The only losers in the decision to continue persecuting these five officers are the citizens of Baltimore City.

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January 18, 2017

Based on the agreement for the transfer of personnel between the BPD and the Anne Arundel County Police Department, it is obvious that Commissioner Kevin Davis feels that a media specialist, with ni responsibility for fighting crime, is more important than two seasoned crime fighting Detectives. We are outraged. This is clearly another example of failed leadership and mismanagement of the Baltimore Police Department by Commissioner Davis.

Lt. Gene Ryan

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January 12, 2017

Despite continued assurances by representatives of the Department of Justice that our organization would be included in the Consent Decree negotiations, no request to participate was ever forthcoming and we were not involved in the process. As we were not afforded an advance copy of the agreement, neither our rank and file members who will be the most affected, nor our Attorneys, have had a chance to read the final product and, as such, we will not have a comment now. Be assured, however, that a response will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.

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January 4, 2017

Dear Mr. Rector,

This is our response to your recent article in the Baltimore Sun dated 1/2/17, “Baltimore Police say they’re prioritizing beat cops, officers who live in the city- but numbers have dropped’.

In this article, Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith incorrectly stated that the BPD “has limitations on how it can fill shifts based on its collective bargaining agreement with the police union.” In truth, as outlined in the current labor contract, BPD command is solely responsible for the allocation of personnel and the number of personnel assigned to individual units, including their roles and responsibilities.

During the last contract negotiation between the City and the FOP, the City (to include Police Command) requested the current Patrol work schedule of 4 days on/3 days off, for a 4 day/10-hour shift configuration. It was stipulated, and agreed upon, that the Department needed 1250 Patrol Officers, working in Patrol cars, to staff the daily shifts. This number was not to include specialized District units, such as Operations and Drug Enforcement; nor, did it include Officers on extended medical leave or suspension. This required number was never reached by the Department and has continued to drop significantly.

The numbers that were quoted in your article were supplied by the BPD in the annually required “Response to House Bill 771 Baltimore Police Department- Report on Community Policing”. In that report, Commissioner Kevin Davis states the following:

As of 12/1/16, 999 officers were in patrol out of 1255 or 79.6% staffed

As of 11/1/15, 1,102 officers were in patrol out of 1,271 or 87% staffed

However, the actual numbers published by the BPD via a Patrol Staffing report dated 12/14/16 are:

1067 officers are assigned to Patrol Districts, citywide. Of the 1067 officers, only 860 are assigned to Sector Patrol. Of the 860, 160 are not in a full duty job status. This leaves the actual number of officers performing Sector Patrol at ONLY 700, citywide, as cited in their own staffing report. This is a far cry from the numbers reported by the BPD on January 1, 2017.

In this same article, BPD spokesman J.T. Smith also reported that the Department had to redeploy Officers to deal with violent crime. He said it recently quadrupled the number of robbery Detectives. In the past, there were 24 Detectives working robbery cases from the DOU, Robbery and City Wide Robbery units. The newly formed Robbery Unit, in actuality, has 45 Detectives working cases; a far cry from the 100 Detectives that would be required if the number had honestly been quadrupled.

The FOP regularly hears numbers, issued by the BPD, that don’t always reflect reality, but have chosen not to address them so as to avoid a war of words over inaccurate propaganda. However, now we must say that enough is enough. We can no longer avoid a response when both our active members, and the citizens of Baltimore, are at such great risk. Our members are required to work many more hours over their normal 10-hour shifts in order to maintain basic Patrol staffing levels which are far lower than any professional law enforcement organization would ever consider even remotely adequate. This is a dire situation in terms of the operational safety of our Officers and can no longer be tolerated.

Equally as critical, however, is the risk that is being absorbed by our already fearful community. The few Officers that are working the various District shifts are only able to respond to calls for service with no time left for proactive policing of any nature. As a result, crime rises, due in great part to the fact that the criminal element of our community is fully aware that our low staffing numbers make us inefficient. Our members can only do so much and, at this point, the Baltimore Police Department is at the tipping point of being unable to protect the City and its citizens.

The rank and file feel as though they are severely understaffed and under attack from all sides, including from within the command ranks of the BPD. Currently there are upwards of 200-300 officers that could retire in 2017 and it is no secret that the BPD has become a training ground for police recruits intent on leaving for better paying agencies that put greater importance on operational safety and employee support. There are law enforcement agencies who regularly attempt to recruit our Trainees and sworn members and, in many cases, have been successful. It is imperative that the Baltimore Police Department hire qualified officers with a sense of urgency. If the city fails to make this job appealing both financially and by improving working conditions, in an expeditious manner, the situation that we have described will only worsen.

We urge Mayor Pugh and the Baltimore City Council to require that Commissioner Davis take swift action to rectify the current Patrol staffing levels of the Baltimore Police Department before the City faces a critical inability to provide basic police protection to its citizens.

Respectfully,
Lt. Gene Ryan
President

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December 8, 2016

Dear Members:

The Labor Commissioner for Baltimore City sent us a letter on December 2, 2015 advising that the City of Baltimore wished to reopen negotiations for a successor agreement to the current Memorandum of Understanding for both Units I and II which was due to expire on June 30, 2016. The letter also informed us that according to Article VI, Board of Estimates, Section 12, Sub-Section (b), the City was prohibited from negotiating a replacement agreement that was longer than one year in duration since a new Mayor would be sworn in during December, 2016. The letter further stated that as an alternative, the current Memorandum of Understanding could be extended for one (1) year, however, if the FOP desired to start the negotiation process, negotiations would begin in early 2016. The City of Baltimore contacted the FOP to start the negotiation process and the initial meeting took place on March 15, 2016 at which time, our counsel Herb Weiner inquired if the option to extend the current agreement was still in play. We were informed by the City of Baltimore that they would not entertain the request to extend the current agreement which was due to expire on June 30, 2016 for one more year but instead mandated that we engage in negotiations for a one year successor agreement.

The next meeting with the City of Baltimore took place on March 31, 2016 at which time, the City asked us to eliminate the 4/10 work shift for patrol and delete Article 16 – Discipline in its entirety from the contracts for Units I and II. It should be noted that Article 16 – Discipline prohibits the Police Commissioner from putting civilians on trial boards. The City did not offer us any additional money or anything else of value.

We met again with the City on May 4, 2016 and scheduled another follow-up meeting for May 24, 2016. The City cancelled the meeting scheduled for May 24, 2016 and advised that they would contact us to re-schedule the meeting. We were contacted at the beginning of September, 2016 to restart negotiations that had been broken off by the City at the end of May, 2016. We advised the City that we were in the middle of a Lodge election campaign and would be unavailable to restart negotiations until the first part of October, 2016.

On October 17, 2016, we had a meeting with the City who reiterated its desire to eliminate the 4/10 work schedule and replace it with a 5/2 schedule with permanent shifts and permanent days off. At that time, the City did not offer any financial improvements to the contract. Our negotiating team rejected the shift proposal and decided to survey the membership concerning this most important working condition. The results of the survey showed that 90% of our current membership in patrol want to maintain the 4/10 work schedule while 76% of those same members want the hours of the 10 hour shift adjusted. Most importantly, 82% of the patrol unit voted to oppose permanent days off.

We scheduled a meeting with the City of Baltimore for Friday, December 2, 2016 at which time, we planned to release the results of the membership survey to the City’s negotiating team. However, the City cancelled the meeting and we have not been contacted to reschedule same as of the writing of this update.

In closing, the FOP negotiating committee has made every effort to bargain in good faith with the City of Baltimore who has proposed replacing the 4/10 work schedule with a 5/2 work schedule with permanent shifts and permanent days off, eliminating the entire Discipline Article of the Memorandum of Understanding, and offering no additional money.

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November 30, 2016

In the early stages of the original discussion regarding the implementation of a Body Worn Camera program for the Baltimore Police Department, I represented our union as a member of
the Mayors advisory task force. I stated, at that time, that the use of these cameras would prove to be an asset to our profession and the footage released today clearly supports our position.

Obviously, none of us wishes to engage in a situation as was recorded by this camera; however,
these circumstances are a reality of the job that we perform daily. These highly qualified
Officers performed in accordance with their training and within the boundaries of the law. On
any given day, Police Officers are forced to make split second, life or death decisions and this footage makes that very clear.

We support Officers Jones and Brown and commend them on their actions as they did what was
necessary to protect the lives of many others, as well as their own.

Lt. Gene Ryan
President

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Baltimore City Lodge #3 Presents our 2016 Holiday Open House and 50th Anniversary Celebration on Friday December 16, 11 AM – 6 PM! We will be serving Oysters On-the_Half_Shell, Pit Beef, Pit Ham, Pit Turkey, Hot and Cold Buffet, and Assorted Desserts!

OPEN BAR IN THE HALL!!!

The first 1000 FOP Lodge #3 Members will get a 50th Anniversary Commemorative Glass!

Please Join Us!!

More Information

Lodge #3 is, once again, very proud to partner with the Baltimore Blast to sponsor 1st Responders Night. This season’s event will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2017 as the Blast take on the Harrisburg Heat at 7:05PM. Information can be found on the attached flyer, including how to obtain free tickets. There will also be a half-time game between the BPD and the BCFD which is always great fun. If you are interested in participating on our team, please contact Lisa Riha (lriha@fop3.org).

Blast Game 2017 Details