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Baltimore County is moving forward with plans to increase pay for police department commanders and rank-and-file officers, as County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. tries to work with the County Council to change the police department’s compensation plans.

Olszewski’s Personnel and Salary Advisory Board is recommending a pay bump at the top of the salary scale for the police department’s “supervisory, management, and confidential employees.” The bill would also increase pay for the positions of captain, major, and colonel by one pay grade. The deputy chief of police would move into a new pay grade.

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The cost of these changes will total $247,254 for fiscal year 2020, and they would take effect retroactively to July 1, 2019, fiscal notes from the county show. The proposals come after the council voted earlier this year to approve a bill that provides a 2% cost of living raise to police officers effective June 30, 2020.

Police pay became a political issue in the county back in 2016, when the county increased fire department salaries by one grade. The Fraternal Order of Police argued the police department was also entitled to an increase, but the county disagreed. The dispute landed in court and it was just settled this year.

The settlement, county officials said, required the county to recalculate everyone’s salary going back to July 2016 to provide back pay to each Fraternal Order of Police member in the department. The payout is being split into two fiscal years ending in fiscal year 2021.

Olszewski’s $3.4 operating billion budget for the year starting July 1 included $13 million in back pay for officers over two years. It also provides step increases and grade changes for officers in an effort to make the department’s compensation more competitive with surrounding jurisdictions.

Police department employees this year received a 3% cost of living increase starting January 1, county spokesman Sean Naron said. The county has also continued to pay “all step and longevity increases.” Olszewski’s budget will also give police department employees another 2% raise effective June 30, 2020, Naron said.

In his first budget address, Olszewski in April said a “well-paid professional police force is essential for public safety.” He also said the settlement will enable the county to more quickly fill vacancies “by attracting top notch candidates.”

The council is expected to vote on the proposal on Oct. 21.

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