Board OKs city police pact, which includes a 5% pay raise
The Board of Estimates yesterday approved a one-year contract with the city's police union, which includes a 5 percent pay raise and a pilot program of a four-day workweek.
Starting Nov. 8, officers in the Northeast District will work 10 hours a day for four days rather than the regular eight-hour-a-day, five-day shifts.
The change will result in overlapping work shifts with nearly double the number of officers on the streets during the peak crime hours of 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thirty-six officers will be on the streets during those five hours.
The pilot program, which could be extended to all of the city's districts, will remain in place for 90 to 120 days.
"I'm hoping that you'll see good results there and that the program will be extended," said City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, one of the five board members.
Paul M. Blair Jr., president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police, said the union is pleased that it was finally able to get a concession on the change in schedule, something it had hoped to get in years past.
Mayor Sheila Dixon said she believes the new schedule will help boost police morale, but she said evaluating the potential extra cost will be a factor.
Blair and Dixon said they will head back to the negotiating table in January to begin working out a full-term contract.
Board OK funds for Leister Park
The Maryland State Board of Public Works yesterday approved $1.2 million in Program Open Space funds for improvements at Leister Park in Carroll County.
The grant is 76 percent of the county's cost of constructing two athletic fields, four picnic pavilions with grills, paved trails with two bridges, playground equipment and landscaping at the Hampstead park.
Carroll was one of 10 counties to receive open-space funding for local park and recreation areas, along with preservation of 406 acres of agricultural and forest land.
Racism blamed in arson case
The state fire marshal's office says racism was the motive for two fires set by a 14-year-old white boy in Hagerstown. Deputy State Fire Marshal Jason Mowbray said the unidentified juvenile set fire to a black woman's car Sept. 16, destroying a vehicle worth more than $8,000. He said the youth also set fire about a month earlier to a trash container and tires stored at the rear of the same woman's house.
Mowbray said the boy has been charged as a juvenile with offenses including arson, harassment and malicious destruction of property. He has been placed in the care of the Department of Juvenile Services pending trial.