Boost police hiring beyond budget provision, head of union urges

May 12, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

The police union president urged the County Council last night to increase hiring beyond the 12 additional officers already included in the proposed 1995 operating budget.

Dennis P. Howell, president of Lodge 70 of the Fraternal Order of Police, told the council during a budget hearing at the Arundel Center that by using money already in the budget, the county could hire nine more officers than the budget calls for.

Quoting department statistics, Mr. Howell said 18 to 24 officers usually leave the force each year and that the 12 additional officers included in County Executive Robert R. Neall's proposed $711 million operating budget would just help maintain the status quo.

The money for the additional nine officers would come from two areas in the Police Department budget.

Mr. Howell asked the council to give the department the authority to use $200,000 in its turnover account to hire four officers.

Turnover money usually is used to replace officers who leave the force, but Mr. Howell noted that it takes eight months to train a new officer and up to six weeks to train an officer who transfers from another department.

"We can't afford to be reactive," he said after the meeting.

Mr. Howell also noted that the county has applied for a $750,000 federal grant to hire more officers, for which the county has set aside $250,000 in matching funds. He argued that the $250,000 should be earmarked for five new officers, whether the county receives the grant or not.

"These, together with the 12 officers requested in the budget, would tremendously enhance the Police Department's effectiveness in our county and would facilitate additional crime prevention measures, as well as assist our overworked officers with their duties and investigations," Mr. Howell said.

Police Chief Robert P. Russell said after the meeting that he would welcome any additional personnel.

"I think Denny made a good case for trying to get as much manpower as we can," he said. "It seems to be a logical case he's making."

Altogether, 13 people testified last night in favor of various projects and programs at the third of four hearings on the proposed budget, which the council will approve by the end of the month.

George C. Shenk Jr., representing the Cultural Arts Foundation of Anne Arundel County, a former county agency that was made private last year, urged the council to continue to provide funds for the arts.

"The purpose of privatization was not to erode the commitment of the public sector for arts and culture," he said.

Mr. Shenk noted that the foundation has collected only about $25,000 toward this year's goal of $100,000.

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