The Baltimore Police Department's response to the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray contributed to a $32 million budget deficit three years ago but the problem of police overtime persists in 2019.
The Baltimore Police Department's response to the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray contributed to a $32 million budget deficit three years ago but the problem of police overtime persists in 2019. (Christopher T. Assaf / Baltimore Sun)

While many see the overtime situation in the Baltimore Police Department as a problem, it enables the police to keep officers on the street (“Top cop pledges to limit overtime,” June 20). It, unfortunately, is a necessary evil until the police department can hire enough people to fill the ranks.

I think one of the problems is the perception that a “cop on the beat” is making more than Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young or a City Council member. If the mayor got paid overtime, I am sure he would double his salary easily. But he doesn’t and they do and that is just a reality of life.

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So what to do about the problem? First, you can limit overtime for the officers and not send them out on the streets. Unfortunately, this is a non-starter. You can assign overtime based on what hours the officers have already worked. I agree that someone who doubles their work hours during the week is not as effective on the streets. I experienced that in the military.

The second way is to recruit more police candidates into the department every year to eliminate the deficit numbers of those who leave. I still believe the number who leave the department every year could be an indicator of serious problems in the department itself. It would be interesting to see the number of new police officers who leave before serving two years and why they left. Solve that and maybe solve the problem of not enough police officers on the streets.

The bottom line at the present time is this: If you want police officers on the streets and we don’t have enough, then you have to pay overtime. And before Council President Brandon Scott begins criticizing the department for “fiscal irresponsibility” and a failure to know “who’s working where — and not working,” he should get his facts straight and be able to prove that they don’t know who’s working where. It’s easy to criticize but not so easy to fix the problem.

Stas Chrzanowski, Baltimore

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