To retain officers, police salaries must be increased...

LETTERS

March 19, 2000

To retain officers, police salaries must be increased

You are right, comparisons do only tell part of the story. The rest of this story is based on public safety and a county executive doing what was right for employees and the citizens.

Anne Arundel County spends thousands of dollars on every recruit, including salaries, training and experience. To watch those same officers further their education, get experience and leave to go to another department is a true drain on the budget.

F.O.P. Lodge 70 didn't get the generous raise you spoke of ("Hefty police raise," editorial, March 14) by using just comparisons. Lodge 70 and the Anne Arundel County government negotiators used pay comparisons of the surrounding jurisdictions to come to a fair settlement. Not only did we use Howard County police pay, but also Baltimore County, Maryland State Police and Baltimore City. We do the same job as those jurisdictions we should receive similar pay.

Not only were we losing good officers, we couldn't hire the best candidates. In a strong economy, such as we have at this time, it is difficult to find people who want to be police. Now add in the fact, our starting pay was low and our top salary (after 19 years) was lower than any department except Baltimore City, and you have trouble in the making.

The new mayor of Baltimore City won his office by identifying the public safety issues, and vowing to correct them. County Executive Janet Owens recognized she would have a similar problem in this county if she wasn't able to hire and retain the best people possible for her department. Remember, the only thing between Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County is a traffic light.

Yes, even though there is a chief of police, Ms. Owens is ultimately responsible for the safety of the citizens and visitors in Anne Arundel County.

Working within the restraints of a tax cap, Ms. Owens knew what to do, and she did it. She gave us a raise we deserve. The tax cap is irrelevant when it comes to public safety.

The $3.5 million is not a drain. It is only a drain if the money is wasted. This money will not be wasted. It is money the police will and do earn everyday.

R. W. Hawkins

Crownsville

The writer is first vice president of F.O.P. Lodge 70.

Maintaining an effective police force is one of those essential governmental functions that the court of public opinion mandates we do. When issues arise impacting our ability to meet those responsibilities, we must act decisively and appropriately within our fiscal ability to do so.

In 1999, several local government jurisdictions created large gaps in police salaries by negotiating very large increases to address recruiting problems. The result was an increase in the median pay levels for police officers in the metropolitan area. The almost full employment economy we are enjoying dictates that we pay competitive salaries in order to recruit qualified applicants for police officers and retain those who already work here.

The Sun's editorial "Hefty police raise" (March 14) indicates that the current salary increases were based on Howard County's police scale. This is not true. Howard, along with the Maryland State Police, Baltimore County, Harford County and Baltimore City, were used for our development of the regional median. Two of these jurisdictions fell below Anne Arundel's salaries.

The editorial also indicated that County Executive Janet Owens had a "greater responsibility to hold the line on the county's budget." Actually, her greater responsibility was to provide for the safety of the county's citizens.

This she has done by assuring that we have the continued ability to meet the staffing requirements of our police department. These pay adjustments are not Santa's gifts, but reasonable increases based on sound compensation practices required to maintain public safety in our county. This strategy well served the taxpayers of Anne Arundel County.

Randall J. Schultz

Annapolis

The writer is personnel officer for Anne Arundel County.

The idiocy of the editors of the Sun never ceases to amaze me. What may I ask is wrong with paying the Anne Arundel County police officers a livable wage ("Hefty police raise," editorial, March 14)?

If a decent raise had not been passed in this contract, many qualified veteran officers would have left the force. These veterans would have been replaced with inexperienced, and perhaps under-qualified new recruits.

Then, of course, the great writers at The Sun would complain when one these underpaid, inexperienced new recruits make a mistake in the line of duty.

County Executive Janet Owens did the right thing by giving the Anne Arundel County police officers a raise. No one expects to get rich in police work; they just want a livable wage like anyone else

Victor Creel

Pasadena

Since when is The Sun so concerned with fiscal conservatism?

The raise for the Anne Arundel County police is necessary to attract and retain quality veteran recruits.

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