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Baltimore police to alter ‘open checkbook’ overtime tactic

A Baltimore police officer wraps up a line of yellow tape after blocking off Eastern Avenue in Greektown earlier this year. “I think we’re trending in the right direction,” Mayor Catherine Pugh told reporters Wednesday about the city’s crime-prevention efforts. ‘I’m excited by the work.’  (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

A Baltimore police officer wraps up a line of yellow tape after blocking off Eastern Avenue in Greektown earlier this year. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

A deputy commissioner of a Maryland police department says the agency is working on plans to change its “open checkbook” approach to overtime.

The Baltimore Sun reports Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Andre Bonaparte announced Monday that the agency is struggling with staffing shortages. The department needs about 1,200 patrol officers to work effectively. It has about 730.

Bonaparte says the chronic understaffing drives up overtime costs and “there were past practices of just open checkbooks within the agency.” Mayor Catherine Pugh’s administration approved in June the use of $21 million in tax revenue to pay for police overtime costs that had exceeded the city’s budget.

Bonaparte says plans to resolve staffing issues include increasing hiring, relying more on civilian staff and negotiating a new shift schedule with the officer’s union.


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