A lawsuit filed by the Maryland Troopers Association over the governor's plan to furlough state police was settled quietly today in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
Filed last week, the suit charged that the furlough plan is unfair and a threat to public safety.
Lawyers for the troopers' union today called the settlement a "win-win situation."
However, two assistant attorneys general said the settlement merely provides for what already exists -- both sides sitting down to talk over the matter.
"They dropped the furlough suit," said Stuart M. Nathan, one of the assistant attorneys general. "The furlough plan will go on."
Judge James T. Smith had scheduled a hearing on the suit for today, but lawyers for both sides worked out a compromise that Smith later signed as a "consent order."
The compromise provides that Col. Elmer H. Tippett must define by Feb. 29 what constitutes an "emergency situation" for troopers who are on a furlough day.
Daniel B. Loftus, one of three attorneys for the troopers' union, said if the union is
unhappy with Colonel Tippett's definition, they will bring the matter back to court.
The definition is important, Mr. Loftus said, because of concern furloughed troopers have over their responsibilities on those days they are furloughed.
The furlough plan, which took effect Feb. 1, calls for about 325 higher-level state police officers to take one to five furlough days between now and June 30.
Under Colonel Tippett's order, troopers who take a furlough day would still have to respond to emergencies, even though they are supposed to be off without pay.
The state maintains that the trooper furlough plan would not harm public safety because it applied only to non-patrol officers.