Police union may file complaint over arrest goals Commander's memo is at center of dispute

November 08, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The union representing Baltimore police officers is threatening to file a complaint of unfair labor practice to stop what it calls an arrest quota implemented by supervisors at the Northwestern District station.

The union president, Officer Gary McLhinney, said a departmentwide review of how many arrests officers have made is appropriate, but he said it is wrong to require officers to make a minimum number of arrests to correct any deficiencies.

"Command has the absolute right and would be negligent if they didn't evaluate employees' work performance," McLhinney said. "But setting arbitrary standards for arrests is beyond reason."

McLhinney said that if a labor complaint is filed with the city it would contend that officers in one part of Baltimore are being held to a standard different from officers working elsewhere.

The dispute erupted between top department officials and McLhinney, of the Fraternal Order of Police, who sent a letter to The Sun on Wednesday saying city residents are "lucky we even show up for work" because of low pay.

In the letter, McLhinney complained that officers are confused over how they should police the city and called for "clear direction and leadership, not policies that change with the political winds."

Sam Ringgold, the department's chief spokesman, told a reporter that "citizens would really take exception" to McLhinney's statements. "The only political winds that are blowing up are the winds he's whipping up."

Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier ordered the review after hearing complaints from officers who said some of their colleagues made arrests every night, while others hadn't locked up a suspect in two years.

Frazier ordered his troops to raise performance levels, and Maj. Errol L. Dutton, commander of the Northwestern District, responded by issuing a memo that sets a goal for officers to arrest at least two adults each week.

Dutton wrote that officers who fail will be given the task of serving outstanding arrest warrants "to bring their stats up." It also says that officers in certain positions will be "rated by whether or not that officer in that position arrested anyone in a specified time frame." Department officials have repeatedly denied there is or will be a quota system. Ringgold said yesterday that Dutton's memo "should have been worded quite differently," but he added that Dutton was addressing "officers who are underperforming. The commander will still be looking at those officers to see that their performance improves."

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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