City police create new command rank

Deputy majors will assist overworked supervisors

November 17, 2003|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Worried that some of his top supervisors are overworked and burning out, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark is creating a new rank of commanders to help run district stations and other demanding units within the department.

The move was immediately criticized by leaders of the city police union, who are concerned about expanding command ranks when many patrol units are understaffed.

Clark will promote 10 lieutenants to the rank of deputy major Nov. 25, he said. Seven will become the No. 2 officer in seven of the city's nine districts, which are run by majors.

Two deputy majors will be assigned to the Organized Crime Division, and one to the intelligence unit.

Each deputy major will make $70,000 or more, depending on the number of years he or she has served in the department and at the rank of lieutenant, Clark said.

Clark said he needed the rank because he wanted to get his majors help running their districts. In recent years, district commanders have come under increasing pressure to reduce crime and better deploy their resources, forcing many to work longer hours.

"We have a lot of district commanders working 16-hour days, seven days a week," Clark said. "Eventually that [leads to] burnout and a lot of micromanaging, and some bad decisions might be made. This gives them a partner in command that can be there" to help supervise.

Clark said the deputy major rank will also serve as a steppingstone to higher levels of command and will give officers a chance to gain experience at running large groups.

Union officials, however, criticized Clark's creation of the new rank because it expands the department's command staff from about 50 to about 60 when many districts are understaffed, in need of dozens of officers. Police officials put that figure at about seven officers per district.

"We do not need to increase our command staff," said Dan Fickus, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, which represents officers, sergeants and lieutenants. "We have ample enough command staff. At this point, with the fiscal situation, expanding the command staff with diminishing manpower in patrol isn't necessary. The money could be better spent for equipment, for better working conditions."

The department used to have the intermediate rank of captain, which was protected by civil service rules. Previous commissioners phased out that rank.

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