City to rehire officers using contingency fund money

$400,000 to restore 16 of 62 laid off contractual workers

July 01, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's Board of Estimates approved use of $400,000 from the city's contingency fund yesterday to reinstate 16 of the 62 retired police officers laid off last month by the Police Department as a cost-saving measure.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said the city moved to rehire the officers -- who work as contractual employees with one-year agreements -- to help with the department's administrative duties and to keep as many officers as possible on the streets.

Police officials and the police union hailed the decision as an important step in maintaining a strong police presence in the city. "Obviously, the department is very pleased to retain the valuable services of some of these, experienced and productive individuals," said Robert W. Weinhold Jr., spokesman for the department.

Weinhold said the department has not determined which positions will be restored, but will evaluate where the needs are.

Brian May, vice president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, said while the reinstatement was good, more needs to be done.

"I'm glad that they're hiring back," May said. "I wish they could hire them all back. We would like to have as many back as we can get. If they could find this money, they could probably find some more."

The 62 retirees, hired over the past few years, had performed jobs ranging from answering tip lines to distributing office furniture. Many performed tasks that can only be done by sworn law enforcement officers, such as transporting evidence consisting of guns, illegal drugs and large sums of money.

Department officials said last month that they planned to cut the 62 officers from the budget because of fiscal problems. Although city police received $199 million for the fiscal year that begins today, including a $5 million increase over last fiscal year, department officials said it was not enough to avoid layoffs.

The decision outraged the police union, which said other officers would be pulled from the streets at a time when the department appears to be making gains in the fight against crime.

Pub Date: 7/01/99

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