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Baltimore police struggling to fill scores of vacancies


Baltimore police officials have conceded that their heightened efforts to fill scores of vacancies will not stem the tide of overtime pay this year or end the practice of requiring officers in specialized units to walk street patrols.

Two new classes of 40 recruits each will put additional uniformed officers on the street in September and December, but not enough to fill 109 vacancies the department currently has, officials said.

In addition, 69 officers are scheduled to retire next month from the department, which currently has 2,858 sworn personnel.

The department is interviewing 75 to 100 applicants a week, said Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman.

"The vacancy problem developed between November and April when the mayor imposed a hiring freeze," Mr. Ringgold said.

The hiring freeze "damaged that pipeline to bring in new officers. That was one of the issues [Police] Commissioner [Edward V.] Woods strongly emphasized when he went before the Board of Estimates [for a budget briefing]," Mr. Ringgold said.

The department has been paying overtime to keep the nine police districts operating.

Yet many patrol cars remain in the station house parking lots for lack of manpower to put them on the street, officials concede.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke announced the end of the hiring freeze in March, one month after a series of kidnappings from downtown parking garages.

Also, during this year's session of the legislature, Mayor Schmoke won a $3 million allotment to hire 72 more officers.

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