County Police Chief Robert P. Russell proposed yesterday a departmental reorganization that could eliminate five positions from his command staff as part of his $41.6 million budget plan.
While many county departments are reorganizing, few are making changes at the top. The chief's approach drew praise from one County Council member.
"Everyone else, when they take positions out, they take them out from the bottom," said Councilman George Bachman, D-Linthicum. "I think that speaks highly of you."
The chief's budget proposal for fiscal year 1993 is $830,000, or 2 percent, more than the current $39.5 million budget.
One of the biggest expenditures, accounting for $1.6 million, is for 75 replacement police cruisers, 19 mid-sized vans and five compact cars.
Russell is asking the council to let him spend $100,000 on the reorganization, which includes combining district patrols and the criminal investigation function into a single Field Operations RTC Bureau. Police officials said the reorganization will save the county between $375,000 and $420,000 a year.
Command staff changes could come in a variety of ways, depending on who retires. Russell said the positions eliminated could be two captains, two majors and one lieutenant or three captains, one major and one lieutenant. One captain already has retired.
In terms of police staffing, the department has given up on hiring and training 24 cadets. Those additions were first proposed in 1991 but not implemented because of budget constraints.
However, Russell said hires of experienced officers could come in two months because of two retirement packages that many officers may find attractive.
Both plans, one offered by the county and one being worked on by the Fraternal Order of Police, would allow workers with at least 20 years of experience to retire early without fear of penalty. The two plans would affect different classifications of police officers.
Russell said the department hopes to lose no more than 60 officers -- including those in command positions -- through both retirement plans.
The department currently has 539 sworn officers -- of which 263 are patrol officers -- and Russell is asking for money for 562. He said with the expected retirements, up to 30 officers from other departments may be hired in July.