Taneytown Becomes Revolving Door For Police Officers

Patrolmen Are Trained, Then They Seek Better-paying Jobs

June 05, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

TANEYTOWN — One of the city's five police officers left in April.

Two more will leave within the next month.

The officers, all of whom received police training at city expense, have concluded their three-year contracts with Taneytown and have found or are looking for law enforcement jobs elsewhere, said Police Chief Melvin E. Diggs.

Generally, officers leave to find better-paying jobs, he said.

Patrolman Stephen Schwartz left in April to scout possibilities in metropolitan Baltimore and with the U.S. Secret Service. Patrolman Michael Bubel will leave later this month to join the Westminster Police Department.

Patrolman Mark Lott tentativelyplans to leave next month for a campus security position with the University of Baltimore.

The police department already has hired replacements for Bubel and Schwartz and is considering a candidate for Lott's job.

Although Diggs would like to see officers stay with Taneytown, he said he doesn't really blame them for leaving.

"There'sno incentive (for them) in Taneytown," Diggs said. "The promotional aspect of the job is not there. Plus, the money isn't really there."

For many officers, Taneytown serves as a steppingstone "for biggerand better things," said Diggs, who has served as chief for more than two years.

"However, if officers were making more money, I thinkthey would stay," he said. "That's what I got from talking to these officers. If we can't give them rank, give them the money. They don'tcare as long as they're making the pay."

Because of its small size, Taneytown does not ranks its officers. The beginning salary for anofficer without certification is $16,000. Once an officer has completed the 18 to 26 weeks of police training, the salary increases by about $1,000 or $2,000, Diggs said.

In contrast, Westminster, which has a force of 29 and five times as many residents as Taneytown, paysits police officers a beginning salary of $19,713. A certified officer's salary ranges from $20,699 to $27,598.

Because Taneytown paysfor police training, officers are required to serve three years or reimburse the city for the training, hourly wages paid during the training and other expenses, Diggs said.

That plan has worked well forthe city.

There has been a lot of turnover the last three years, Diggs said. "But before, the turnover was a lot greater in a lot lesstime."

Diggs said he was pleased the officers honored their contracts. They were making about $20,000 a year and would have received a2.5 percent pay increase next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

With the city's continuing growth, however, Diggs said the City Council will have to upgrade the police department and its operation.

City Manager Neal W. Powell said the issue has been discussed many times, and he questioned whether raising salaries would curb the mobilityof the young.

"They're always looking for something better," Powell said. "They're restless when they're young. I suppose more money would be helpful, and I think it's going to have to be addressed.

"But where do you stop? If an officer jumps jobs for $500 a year, I'm not so sure another $500 or $1,000 in pay will keep them


What Taneytown lacks in salaries, it makes up for in benefits, whichinclude a major medical insurance plan that picks up the entire costof family coverage, 12 paid holidays and one personal day, and 10 sick-leave days a year, he said.

Powell said the city will continue to grow, and with that growth will come opportunities for rank withinthe department.

"If some of these young men would be a little bitpatient, they might find that Taneytown is not so bad after all," hesaid.

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