Battle over the Baltimore Police Department's budget overruns continued Tuesday, as the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 issued a statement following the Baltimore City Council's refusal to transfer $21 million dollars to cover police overtime costs.
The City Council has been trying to curb the frequent budget overruns created by police overtime expenditures, passing a resolution in early July to conduct monthly reviews to monitor and assess the police department's budget.
Tuesday, FOP Lodge #3's First Vice President Kenneth Butler issued a statement in a tweet, understanding the idea of rejecting the budget transfer as a protest vote, but arguing that misses the real problem with these budget over runs. Butler's letter contends it is mismanagement at the top of the department that causes these overtime expenditures, as leaders fail to recruit and retain enough officers to properly pass patrol shifts.
"We are currently in a crisis situation which will only be resolved when those in charge stop blaming our members and admit that the fault is theirs," Butler's statement read, "and that nothing will be fixed until such time as they find a way to hire more suitable officers and retain those already on the job."
Read the full statement here:
On behalf of the membership of the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #3 let me say that last night’s decision by the City Council Budget Committee regarding funding of the Police Department’s spending overruns is completely understandable as a means of protest. It is not, however, acceptable in terms of the reality of the current situation in our city. Even less acceptable are the blaring innuendos that, somehow, the union and its membership are responsible for the exorbitant overtime costs that are occurring and growing with each year. The truth is much more difficult for the Council members to admit and so the rank and file members of the Department have become the scapegoat.
The actuality, however, is this: years of mismanagement on the part of the Department’s upper command, combined with the ineptitude of previous city administrations, has left our agency depleted of adequate manpower. The current situation is not the fault of any particular Patrol shift but rather with the fact that there has never been a strong emphasis on the recruitment or retention of police personnel and the result is now unavoidable. We are currently in crisis situation which will only be resolved when those in charge stop blaming our members and admit that the fault is theirs and that nothing will be fixed until such time as they find a way to hire more suitable officers and retain those that are already on the job. At the current time, we are bleeding experienced officers at a furious pace and no one has offered any suggestions as a solution for even that problem. A manpower deficit the likes of our current one, cannot be solved with just a change in schedule, as is suggested. The Baltimore Police Department does not have the manpower to staff any shift proposal without the use of exorbitant overtime spending. It is time for Councilman Brandon Scott and the Budget Committee to look at the real issues rather than believing everything they are told by those who continue to perpetuate a myth.
Lt. Kenneth Butler
1st Vice President
Baltimore City FOP, Lodge #3