Police get contract
The Baltimore police union agreed to a new contract with the city on Thursday that calls for alterations in shifts that could help ease staffing shortages in districts.
The Sun's Julie Scharper details those provisions in her story today. The agreement has to be voted on by the rank and file on Tuesday. Aside from scheduling and avoidng forced days off to help the city's budget crunch, the officers won two other key provisions:
The police commissioner will have to meet with union officials and revisit a policy that prohibits cops from working overtime in establishments that sell alcohol. Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III implemented this rule to avoid conflicts of officers working for bars and his feeling they were more accountable to the owners then do the department.
In some areas of the city, such as Federal Hill, bar owners pay into a pool and the city assigns extra-duty officers to patrol neighborhoods that are popular night spots. That way, the bars get the protection and the officers still answer to the city. But some police say this has cut into their livelihood and some bar owners don't like loing control over their hires.
Also, police officers put on the so-called do-not-call list kept by prosecutors cannot be fired simply for being on the list. Prosecutors prohibit such officers from testifying in court and officers end up on the list at the discretion of the State's Attorney's Office, sometimes even if they haven't been disciplined by the department. But it means that cops on the list can't make arrests because they can't follow through in court.
City and union officials tell me that no officer has ever been fired simply for being on the list, so this contract provision is a pre-emptive strike in case a commander decides a cop should be fired because he can't perform all his duties.