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Police union approves contract to increase pay, cut vacant positions

Baltimore's police union Tuesday night approved a contract that increases officer pay by 13 percent and reorganizes the department to add 300 officers available for emergencies, its president said.

Of the nearly two-thirds of officers who voted, 86.4 percent approved the new agreement, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 President Robert F. Cherry said. The deal will cut vacant positions from the department while raising officer pay.

The pay raises, some of which are retroactive, will go into effect across the board by mid-2015, in response to officers' top complaint in a recent in-house survey. Officials hope those measures will retain officers who might otherwise leave for higher-paying jobs in nearby Baltimore or Howard counties.

The three-year contract will bring a "patrol-based department" back to the city, Cherry said, bucking a trend toward specialized units. A new work schedule will allow commanders to quickly assign more resources to crime surges without running up overtime, city and union leaders said.

That reorganization will bump the number of officers responding to 911 calls across the city to 1,200 from 900, Cherry said.

It was not clear how the city will pay for officer raises, nor how many of the 193 vacant jobs in the department will be cut.

"The mayor and the police commissioner stepped up," Cherry said of the negotiations.

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