Dan Rodricks is wrong to assert that the Baltimore Police Department has to improve salaries to attract qualified applicants (“Baltimore’s need for more police officers, measured in square miles,” Jan. 4). The following information from the department's website undercuts his belief that increase salaries is the answer to improving a dysfunctional police department.
Starting yearly salary for Baltimore police recruits is $50,440 and top officers can earn up to $86,397. Sergeants’ yearly salaries range from $79,115 to $100,228, and lieutenants from $91,533 to $113,936, respectively. These salaries are contingent on only having, at a minimum, a GED and no felony arrests. So misdemeanor arrests are no bar to being a Baltimore police officer, and in Maryland, that includes second degree assault and carrying a concealed and dangerous weapon. Not bad money for having an arrest record and a minimal formal education that enables you to carry capital punishment on your hip.
According to the Baltimore Business Journal, the highest paid city employee in Fiscal Year 2018 was a police sergeant who made $250,197, with Baltimore’s mayor coming in at 55th with a paltry $178,294. Of the 30 highest paid city employees, 23 are a combination of police officers, sergeants and lieutenants. This is the result of combined base salaries and overtime. Acting Commissioner Gary Tuggle took home $189,000. However, one police officer did better with a salary $227,053 for fiscal 2018.
A cursory review of city employee salaries should lay to rest the belief that increased salaries will bring about improvement in policing. Similar salary levels brought us the infamous Gun Trace Task Force, and how did that work out?