BALTIMORE, Md. – It’s no secret that recruiting and retaining cops in this day and age is no easy task. Departments across the country are short-staffed and the exhaustion is starting to show.
This rings especially true for officers in Baltimore. The Baltimore Police Department is reportedly 500 officers short of where they should be. Even less cars are on the road than a few months ago.
And officers are tired.
In fact, just last week a photo was circulated of an officer appearing to be fast asleep in his patrol car.
In a message made public by the Baltimore Sun, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 President Sgt. Mike Mancuso told officers that if the department wasn’t going to take care of them, they needed to do it themselves.
Instead of doing what they can to help alleviate concerns of overworked officers, the department has failed to bring on new hires, forcing current officers into extremely long overtime shifts. And Mancuso said they should make their concerns known, as well as document the results.
“Due to the extensive number of hours that each of you is required to work you are being confronted by sleep deprivation and the loss of the down time necessary to mitigate the stress of our profession,” Mancuso wrote. “If your health declines to the point of exhaustion, you should contact your personal physician and follow their advice,” Mancuso wrote. “You are only a number to this Department and City, but you are mom, dad, sister, brother and friend to others. Please take care of yourselves!”
On Wednesday the department said that in the first half of 2019, it had hired 89 new officers — but lost 87, for a net gain of two units. These swinging numbers are putting the pressure on every other LEO.
— Washington Informer (@DC_Informer) June 20, 2019
When asked about the force’s concerns, the department issued a statement saying that the “health of our officers is of paramount importance to everyone in the Department and is one of Commissioner Harrison’s highest priorities.”
The department maintains that when the current training academy graduates, the number of patrol cars will go back up from 625 to 660. They also say that they’ve worked hard to reduce the amount of overtime that officers are working. Earlier in June, Commissioner Michael Harrison told reporters that he was cracking down on officers who exceeded the approved level of overtime allowed.
“It’s not just the answer to a financial question, but a health-and-wellness question. Are they really performing well?” he said.
Jay Wiley is a retired sergeant from the Baltimore Police Department. These days he runs the Law Enforcement Today Radio Show, hosting LEO icons from around the country to share their stories. He weighed in on the struggles that the department is now facing.
“Baltimore City Hall has had a long standing history of ignoring problems until they are at disaster levels,” said Wiley. “The shortages of officers and manpower deployment problems are nothing new. The FOP and patrol level officers have been complaining about shortages since the 1980s. Now the amount of overtime paid out to officers has become an issue with the news media. Unfortunately, the only thing that seems to get the attention of City Hall is lawsuits. Providing documentation of exhaustion and forced overtime lays the groundwork for civil suits.”
These stories bring us back to the same question over and over again.
What happens when we run out of cops?