Police Order Review Of Moonlighting

Permission For Officers To Work At Candy Firm Can't Be Found

February 04, 2010|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,justin.fenton@baltsun.com

The Baltimore Police Department has ordered a review of all secondary employment arrangements after receiving an inquiry from The Baltimore Sun about officers who were hired by a Southwest Baltimore business that had experienced a rash of break-ins.

A police spokesman said Deputy Commissioner for Operations Anthony Barksdale ordered an audit Tuesday after police were unable to find paperwork authorizing officers to moonlight at Mary Sue Candies, a 60-year-old company known for its candy Easter eggs that has recently been hit by thieves taking copper pipes.

Maj. Anthony Brown, commander of the Southwestern District, said he coordinated the jobs and that they had been sent up the chain of command for approval, but police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said no paperwork has been located.

Guglielmi stressed that documentation "may be sitting on a desk somewhere," but that the issue prompted the department to look more broadly at such arrangements.

Secondary employment for police officers can be coordinated by district commanders but must be sent through the department's overtime unit and the commissioner for approval, Guglielmi said. That unit reviews the arrangement for conflicts of interest or liability concerns, and officers are prohibited from working in excess of 32 hours per week. Some approved vendors are authorized to cut checks directly to the officers, while others have their payments funneled to the officers through the department, Guglielmi said.

Many officers hold second jobs performing security for businesses around the region, and such arrangements have occasionally raised questions over what constitutes a reasonable expectation of police protection and when a business should expect to pay for attention that the department is unable to provide with its on-the-clock force.

"People want extra protection, and because our officers have the expertise and nobody knows the city better, it makes sense to employ them," said Robert F. Cherry, president of the Fraternal Order of Police union. "The budget's tight, and our guys work hard, and they're looking for other opportunities to make money."

Cherry said those concerns have been heightened since 2008, when Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III banned officers from working secondary employment at bars and other establishments that serve alcohol. Bealefeld expressed concerns that having officers on the payroll encouraged leniency to bars that let their crowds become unruly.

Businesses in high-traffic entertainment districts now pay into a department-controlled pool to have uniformed officers in their general area, and the police union has asked for a task force to study the issue.

According to department records, officers have responded to Mary Sue's location on South Caton Avenue seven times since Dec. 8, including twice for destruction of property and four times for larceny.

William Buppert, president of Mary Sue, said he contacted Brown, seeking a steady police presence until his business could address the rash of crimes.

Buppert said he has paid the officers directly and said Brown was not paid by him to coordinate the efforts.

"The police have been really top-notch in allocating the necessary resources to help us with that," Buppert said.

Cherry said the issue sounded like it was being blown out of proportion and did not require a wider review.

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