BALTIMORE - If Baltimore wants to continue its recent success in combating violent crime, union leaders say change is needed.
"We will challenge the mayor and we will challenge anyone that says that you need more bodies on the street to make Baltimore a better city, said FOP Lodge 3 President Robert Cherry, Jr., “You need to adjust your game plan."
And to that end, the Fraternal Order of Police has come up with its own plan for cutting both crime and taxes at the same time.
It may come as no surprise that the union would like to see its 2,900 active members receive nods on pensions, pay and time off.
"Our officers are making 18% less than the median for police officers across the state of Maryland,” said Cherry, “We're in a pension fight with the mayor now that we think she didn't have to go to in terms of the 25 and out, because it's not going to save her money up front, but it did create a huge morale problem up front."
Union leaders claim morale also has suffered in the aftermath of a towing scandal that implicated 40 officers, and following the lead of New Orleans in dealing with its post-Katrina corrupted department, they have recommended changes in recruiting new officers.
The plan calls for recruits to have two years of college or two years of military service with a focus on returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rather than wait to outline the plan for a new commissioner, the FOP hopes the search committee uses it to help assess candidates for the job.
"Our FOP is going to remain engaged with the community, with City Hall and with our police commissioner and we do that because we're not just going to be a union fighting for salary and benefits,” said Cherry, “It's a lot more than that."
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