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Police Department on 'Verge of Crisis,' Unions Say

The unions including sergeants and lieutenants in the Anne Arundel County Police Department gave a vote of no-confidence to the county administration, citing staffing and equipment problems.

Unions of police supervisors in Anne Arundel County said the department is “on the verge of crisis,” citing rising violent crime rates, a lack of staffing and difficulties with a new communications system.

The International Brotherhood of Police Officers, which includes groups of sergeants and lieutenants in the county, issued a statement this week criticizing County Executive John R. Leopold and Police Chief James Teare Sr. for decisions that have led to “the deterioration of public safety” in the county.

The unions said a lack of staffing and problems with a new communications system have been particularly hard on officers as the population of the county has grown.

“If county and department leaders don’t change course immediately, these officers fear a dramatic rise in crime and the waste of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to fix problems that could have been avoided with more prudent management,” according to a press release from the International Brotherhood of Police Officers.

The Annapolis Capital reported last week that the unions overwhelmingly passed votes of no-confidence in Leopold and Teare. The vote was 2-to-1 against among lieutenants and 9.5-to-1 against among sergeants, the Capital said.  

The unions outlined five problems that they say have “plagued” the Anne Arundel County Police Department.

  • A low ratio of officers to population. The officers said the county now has 690 officers, with a county population of 537,656. In 2000, there were 659 officers but only 489,644 people living in the county. The unions also cite a ratio of 1.18 officers for every 1,000 residents. According to the unions, that is a little more than half the ratio of other municipalities nationwide.
  • Rising violent crime. The unions point out increases in homicides and assaults with guns between 2009 and 2010. While , officers said crimes are becoming more violent, with a wider range of victim. “Violent crime is unacceptable no matter the identity of the victim,” the unions wrote. “But the fact that violence is spreading to atypical victims is a disturbing indicator of escalating crime.”
  • Less service overall. The unions said cuts to staff have meant a reduction in staff to investigate missing persons, identity theft and financial crimes. Officers also complained that they don’t have the staff to work proactively and often can’t do proper follow-up work.
  • Crime stats not reported accurately. While the county has said calls for service are down, the unions said that figure does not include calls made initially by officers out on patrol. The unions said there are 100,000 officer calls that are not included in the official figures.
  • Challenges with communications and reporting system.  The county installed a $6.6 million dispatch system last year, but it has been plagued with problems. Officers said the system makes it harder to locate and respond to crimes, and that reporting takes far longer.

Leopold spokesman David Abrams told the Baltimore Sun that the downturn in the economy forced the county to make cuts, and that some funds could be restored if finances improve.

“The county executive has made it very clear that when our fiscal picture improves, public safety will be a priority," Abrams told the newspaper. 

Chet Brewer March 03, 2012 at 03:05 PM
RINO = any republican I disagree with. Empty label
R.T. Klamm March 05, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Chet, I'm a Libertarian and advocate Mr. Leopold has a constitutional right to live his personal life as he chooses. However as an elected official when their personal choices shake the confidence of those that supported them they not only show disrespect for themselves, but their office and most of all those that supported them. This then becomes a matter that transcends personal choices into the public arena where such character flaws do not belong because it places a cloud of distraction over the elected official that impedes there ability to effectively represent the electorate. By the way RINO's are those individuals that lack the personal integrity to run as an Independant. Abusing a political party structure as a leg up to electability while deceitfully representing themselves as a candidate. Not an empty label but a sign of the times where even a common thread of decency is to difficult to comply with in the name of an organized entity let alone committing to a party platform..
Chet Brewer March 06, 2012 at 12:17 AM
RT another way to look at it is that a RINO by your definition is anyone that has been a republican since 1970 and can't stomach what the party has become the last 15 years or so. My party has been hijacked by the lunatic fringe or the Southern Democrats they absorbed in the 80's take your choice. So if you don't agree with every plank of the platform there is no place for you in the party. Its a good way to force the party to be recalibrated. Personally i'm not shocked by any politician abusing his position, but firmly believe when caught they should be shown the door "pour encourage les autres"
R.T. Klamm March 06, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Chet, this is an excellent example. At first it appeared we were in conflict. After further consideration and in-depth thought our ideals came closer on a given issue. I accept your compromise. Now the real question is how to pass such attitudes along to elected officials. Or perhaps the two of us should serve.
Shannon March 06, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Sign me up. I would love to lock up half of the punks in my neighborhood. The problem is our court system is to easy on these people offering Probation Before Judgement allowing people to reoffend over and over again. What we truly need is something that allows citizens to do more. We see more than the police can.


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