Baltimore's Board of Estimates approved new contracts on Wednesday for the city's police and fire chiefs that include six-figure severance packages.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Fire Chief Niles R. Ford have contracts that last until June 30, 2020. Davis will be paid $200,000 a year; Ford will be paid $183,500.
Each will be eligible to receive 75 percent of one year's salary if he is fired without cause. That is $150,000 for Davis, and $137,625 for Ford.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the contracts are "consistent with past practices."
"We want them focused on public safety and not out looking for other jobs," the mayor said. "I think we're getting great deals. They're both widely respected."
Rawlings-Blake is not running for re-election, meaning the contracts will extend into a new mayor's term. But she defended the deals.
"Chief Davis and Ford's severance are less than the past commissioners and chiefs," she said. "That's a fact."
In documents presented to the board, the mayor's office praised Ford for creating a training program for high school students to become firefighters and paramedics, implementing a new fire schedule, and promoting diversity in the agency.
Davis, whose confirmation was approved by the City Council on Monday, was credited with training and equipping personnel to respond to civil unrest, working on a pilot program for body cameras, and increasing gun seizures.
Two council members voted against Davis' confirmation because of the severance package.
Former Commissioner Anthony W. Batts received $190,000 in severance plus a payment for unused leave under the terms of his contract.
The previous commissioner, Frederick H. Bealefeld III, had a severance package with possible payouts that ranged from $75,000 to $225,000. He chose to retire and received no severance.
State Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, criticized the deals.
"I want these departmental leaders to be successful, but I also believe that the next mayor deserves the right to build his or her team," he said. "With these severance packages going into 2017, the Board of Estimates is creating an unnecessary liability for taxpayers."