Police union endorses Ruppersberger

June 08, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County's police union jumped into the crowded election contest for county executive yesterday with one primary goal in mind -- defeating Republican incumbent Roger B. Hayden.

"The main objective is to defeat Roger Hayden," L. Timothy Caslin, president of Lodge No. 4 of the Fraternal Order of Police, said before the lodge formally endorsed County Councilman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III outside the Parkville Precinct on Putty Hill Avenue.

That's why the FOP wanted to pick a candidate early, Mr. Caslin said. Now, the lodge, which has 1,300 active and 500 retired members, can pour volunteers and money into a campaign and play a bigger role, he said.

In a general membership meeting Monday night at the Towson American Legion Hall, members voted 41-6 to approve the executive board's nearly unanimous (16-1) recommendation. Mr. Caslin said many members had heard the board recommendation and didn't bother to attend.

With Democratic elected officials on the heavy-voting Eastside unable to unite behind one executive candidate in the primary, the police endorsement -- and one expected soon from the county teachers association -- could provide an early edge in the primary.

Other county employee unions are taking less active approaches. For instance, the firefighters plan no endorsement this year because their membership is split.

Mr. Ruppersberger, a former assistant state's attorney and twice council chairman during nine years in office, said he considers crime the issue most on voters' minds this year, which he said makes the police union's endorsement the most valuable an executive candidate can receive.

"This is the most significant endorsement this year," he said. "People want experience now. They're not as mad" as in 1990. County voters angry about rising taxes and government spending voted out Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen and five of seven council members in 1990.

Mr. Ruppersberger, of Cockeysville, cited police statistics showing that although overall county crime is down despite police budget cuts, robberies increased from 1,707 in 1990 to 2,307 in 1993, a 35 percent increase.

Armed robberies went up from 947 in 1990 to 1,400 in 1993, a 47 percent increase.

The result has been an increased fear of crime in the county, Mr. Ruppersberger said, a fear that demands a response from government.

Mr. Caslin criticized Mr. Hayden's cuts in the police budget and the resulting reductions in police strength that occurred during the severe budget crisis in 1991-1992.

SG "Parkville Precinct has 15 less officers now," he said, adding that

cutting police strength because overall crime statistics are down just invites more trouble.

Mr. Hayden, recuperating after recent brain surgery, has said all along that he has found innovative ways to bolster police strength, even while cutting budgets to keep taxes from increasing during the worst recession in modern county history. For example, no officers were laid off, he said, even though several hundred county employees lost their jobs in February 1993.

Mr. Caslin said Mr. Ruppersberger's leadership in trying to persuade the County Council this year to use $1.5 million saved in budget cuts to bolster the police was a major factor in his getting the union endorsement. The council eventually rejected the idea and instead cut a penny off the property tax rate.

Mr. Ruppersberger's Democratic rivals for the nomination said they had coveted the police endorsement.

State Sen. Nancy L. Murphy of Catonsville; retired District Judge John C. Coolahan of Halethorpe, a former state senator; and Councilman Melvin G. Mintz of Pikesville said they had hoped to be favored by the union and felt they have strongly supported police and anti-crime measures.

Mr. Coolahan said he has spoken with several county officers he knew as a judge and that all had told him they would work for his election in September regardless of the union's choice.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.