Tight budget ends off-duty radio use for Howard police


Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker said yesterday that he can't come up with the money to let police officers take portable radios home, so they will be told to play it safe and not stray from their cruisers if they come upon crimes in progress.

Police Chief James N. Robey Jr. met with Mr. Ecker yesterday to discuss a budget cut of $109,000 that resulted in the recall of portable radios from 109 off-duty officers who take their cruisers home.

When the decision was announced in April, several officers complained that it would not be safe to leave their cars to pursue a criminal unless they had a portable radio they could use to call for help.

Mr. Ecker said he wanted to reconsider the issue, but yesterday he acknowledged that he did not have the money to restore the use of radios. Instead, the Police Department will change its procedures.

In the past, officers who take their cars home have been required to respond on foot to crimes in progress.

Now they will be asked to stay by their cruisers, which have radios, until help arrives.

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