Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall will hire state troopers who lose their jobs because of budget cuts to fill vacant police positions.
Neall announced yesterday that the county will fill 12 vacant positions from among the 83 troopers who are being terminated because of 4, Gov. William Donald Schaefer's budget cuts.
"These are extraordinary economic times," Neall said. "I have the opportunity to give our chief of police the manpower he needs now."
The troopers would be brought in at pay comparable to what they are making now. Starting salary for a county officer is $26,200; for a trooper $24,500.
Anne Arundel has 36 vacant police positions. However, Neall said, the county had only planned to fill 12 of those positions through "lateral" hires, or the hiring of officers from other jurisdictions. The remaining 24 positions are to be left vacant in order to contain costs.
"If and when the dust settles, we plan to make all the positions available," Neall said.
Neall imposed a hiring freeze shortly after he took office last December as part of his efforts to curb spending.
The proposal to offer the positions to state troopers was put together in about 36 hours, minus five hours for sleep, Neall said. But the county had to act quickly because the troopers stand to lose their jobs by Nov. 1, he said.
"We hope to have them in without them missing a paycheck," Neall said.
When Schaefer announced his plans Monday to balance the budget by cutting $450 million, Anne Arundel's share amounted to about $9.3 million. About $1.2 million of the $9.3 million was from operating and maintenance funds for the police department.
Neall said hiring the troopers could save the county about $200,000 because they will not have to undergo academy training.
Police Chief Robert Russell said the troopers will be hired as contractual employees and after one year of service will join the county merit system.
Neall said some questions and a few problems still have to be ironed out, such as the amount of pension time the troopers have and whether it is transferable.
"In these very, very difficult times, it's nice to do something to help," Neall said. "I wish it could be more but we're doing what we can."