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Officer robbed, shoots suspect

You can always tell when the rank and file cops are battling City Hall. Not an opportunity is wasted. A city police officer shot a man who he said tried to rob him at gunpoint outside his city home and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 union immediately jumps on the mayor.

The president, Robert Cherry, says this proves lots of cops live in the Baltimoe and Mayor Shelia Dixon should be more supportative and stop complaining that so many cops reside outside the city limits. I'm not sure she complains but she does express her opinion that she wishes more lived in Baltimore, as has have mayors before her.

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More troubling for me is that police, citing their new policy that is now hardly new anymore but has been under review for about nine months, won't release the name of the officer to the public. It's difficult to assess the full story without all the facts. This is the 11th shooting of a civilian by a police officer this year; there were 20 in all of 2008 and 33 in 2007.

What I think is happening behind the scenes is a fight over budget cuts. Police are struggling to slice more out of their budget and keep crime initiatives going. At the same time, the command staff is going on a retreat costing $11,000 (it's Leakin Park, not Hawaii), but it has raised some questions.

And now I'm hearing from The Sun's police reporter, Justin Fenton, that police are being forced to give up planned raises to deputy majors and majors, something that was a long time coming in an effort to make command positions more desirable. Commanders don't receive overtime, so in addition to being on the chopping block and non-unionized, they were making less than people ranked below them. The idea was to bump up deputy major pay through a stipend, and then as a result were to raise majors as well.

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said that is being shelved for the time being as they sort through the budget mess. Also, police are going to significantly scale back non-operational overtime, including public affairs and legal.

I'm not sure the budget cuts and the new swipe at City Hall are linked, but the two have historically gone together. Here is Cherry's statement:

An off duty Baltimore City Police Officer was able to fight off an armed suspect this afternoon (Monday, September 14, 2009) after the suspect approached the police officer, produced a handgun, and forced his way into the police officer's home in Northeast Baltimore. Our police officer was able to retrieve his service weapon and shoot and incapacitate the suspect. Our police officer was not harmed during the home invasion.

The City of Baltimore should salute the dedication to duty and quick judgment performed not only by this police officer but the entire rank and file as we work together to reduce crime in the City and keep our citizens safe from the thugs who continue to roam the streets and pose a threat to our civility and sense of security.

Of particular interest to the FOP is the fact that this police officer resides in the City of Baltimore. All too often we hear from Mayor Sheila Dixon and her staff about the number of active and retired police officers who do not reside in the City. The FOP will always defend the right of our police officers to live where they choose, but today's shooting is a reminder that there are many of us who do reside in the City.

The police officer who fought off the armed thug this afternoon brings back a tragic and horrific memory a couple years ago when another one of our fine police officers, Detective Troy Chesley, was gunned down returning home from work - returning home to his dwelling in the City.

It is time for the Mayor to start giving more credit to the rank and file for the good work we perform every day and night and to recognize that many of our police officers do in fact reside in the City of Baltimore and even while off duty, we are placing ourselves on duty to protect the law abiding taxpayers and citizens of Baltimore.

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