How to deal with police overtime problem, at least temporarily

The Baltimore Sun reported that 42 percent of the Baltimore Police Department was on overtime last month (“As many as 42 percent of Baltimore police officers on patrol last month were working overtime,” June 7). Just think, the summer hasn’t even started yet! Long shifts, forced overtime, court appearances, details and little sleep make for an inefficient police force at best.

I’ve been there.

The real question is: How many cops have their time in? All of this overtime will exacerbate staffing levels as veterans head for the pension section. It’s unrealistic that the department can even stop the hemorrhaging of personnel. The Freddie Gray case, state’s attorney and mayor all weigh heavily on a department fraught with corruption and personnel issues. Mayor Catherine Pugh’s last choice for commissioner ended in disaster faster than a Hollywood marriage.

Baltimore would have to hire 500 cops overnight. However, even that won’t help. It would take them at least six months to be properly trained before they could hit the streets. What kind of candidate would even take that job under the current climate? I wouldn’t. Does the mayor panic and drop the standards for hiring even further? Others have tried this with disastrous results, just look up Miami in the 1980s.

Hiring your way out of the problem is no guarantee for success, but it fixes an immediate need. The BPD should be scheduling weekly exams, choosing the top tier and scrapping the rest. Wash, rinse and repeat.

In the meantime, Governor Hogan should alleviate the patrol shortage by back-filling with the Maryland State Police. This is a short-term fix, but it increases both police presence and officer safety. What is he waiting for, an invitation? Well governor, you just got it.

Would the last officer to leave the BPD, please turn off the lights.

Joseph Giacalone

The writer is a retired New York Police Department sergeant, author and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

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