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Baltimore County Police Department To See Command Staff Exodus

Police Chief Jim Johnson said he may restructure the department in the wake of the expected departures of seven veteran commanders, who make up 25 percent of his leadership staff.

Nearly a quarter of the command staff of the Baltimore County Police Department is expected to retire this year, some beginning as early as next week, according to police Chief Jim Johnson.

The retirements include commanders at the Cockeysville and Parkville precincts as well a number of other captains and majors.

Johnson confirmed the impending retirements Thursday. He said the departures could also lead to an internal restructuring of the department.

"I am extremely grateful for their service to this department," Johnson said in an interview with Patch. "They have shaped this organization for decades. This is a sad moment for me."

Johnson attributed the seven retirements he is expecting to the County Council's recent passage of an .

"I don't begrudge them their retirement," Johnson said. "I understand they're taking advantage of an incentive the county has made available to them."

On the expected list of retirees include:

  • Majors Tom Canning and Rob Dewberry, who oversaw eastside and westside patrols, respectively.
  • Cockeysville precinct Capt. Marty Lurz.
  • Parkville precinct Capt. Tom Busch.
  • Capt. Barry Barber, community resources, who had been in charge of the Police Athletic League before it transferred earlier this year to the county Department of Recreation and Parks.
  • Capt. Jeff Rosier, personnel section.
  • Capt. Drake Roche, county night commander.

Under the early retirement plan, county employees can apply for it between Oct. 31 and Dec. 31.

If accepted, employees can be credited for up to three years of additional service to their pension plan. The agency must then permanently close out the position or a similar one.

Johnson said none of the changes will affect the number of officers on the street.

"I'm committed to doing everything I can to make sure that the decreases in crime we've enjoyed over the last few years continue," Johnson said.

The chief said the departures could save the department as much as $1 million in salaries and benefits in the current budget year and $2 million in the budget year that begins July 1.

He called the retirements "a dynamic situation" and said some on the list who said they were planning to retire next week had not officially filed their paperwork.

Other officers could apply for the benefit or some might reconsider, he said.

One of those was Busch, a 37-year veteran who commanded the Parkville precinct for the last two years. He announced his intentions to leave during a Tuesday night meeting of his area Police Community Relations Council.

"This is my last meeting," Busch said Tuesday night. "It's been a pleasure serving you guys."

He declined to comment further on Thursday saying he had not yet filed his final retirement papers.

Lurz, a 39-year veteran who spent the last 15 in the Cockeysville precinct, expressed similar gratitude to the community.

"It was the community that really made us successful up here," said Lurz, who was known for using an extensive email list to talk directly to community leaders about ongoing crime trends. "I could put a cop on every corner but we can't do the job everyone expects us to do if people don't talk to us."

Lurz, 57, laughed as he recounted using the list to pit communities against each other to reduce the incidents of homes burglarized because doors and windows were left unlocked.

At the time, those types of burglaries were more than one of every three that his precinct investigated. Lurz sent out emails to the neighborhood associations in his area challenging them to lower burglary numbers by competing against other communities.

In the end, Lurz said the rate of burglaries stemming from unlocked doors and windows dropped to just 12 percent of all cases.

Johnson said that none of the precincts losing a captain will be combined with other nearby precincts. Instead, the chief said he will name interim commanders and hopes to have permanent replacements in as little as 60 days.

The retirements do leave open the door to other management changes.

"I'm studying the possibility of restructuring the department," Johnson said.

One possible option is eliminating the three colonels in the department in favor of creating a deputy chief of police.

Johnson acknowledged the option was on the table but said nothing had been decided.

"It's too early to talk about that right now," Johnson said.

In May, Johnson warned the County Council about an impending "massive loss of institutional knowledge" he expected in October or November.

In an interview Thursday, Johnson said his comments came without foreknowledge of an early retirement incentive.

"The brain drain is of great concern to me," Johnson said. "We are like the military and we cross-train our officers so that they can do the job of the person above them. We've been planning—succession planning—for years.

"We have a deep bench of very talented people ready to take on new roles and responsibilities," said Johnson.

Bart November 29, 2011 at 02:38 PM
Buck, I couldn't agree more. When I was a kid, the police were our friends. Now? No way. We even had to warn our children when they were growing up that they had to be cautious around the police and not to trust them. I have witnessed the police being brutal and belligerent when it was just not called for. When our kids were in their teens, a group of their friends were put in some mighty bad situations because of the over-zealous cops. It seemed the nice, mannerly kids were too easy of a target for the bully cops; the judge threw out the whole mess, laughing at the cops for their stupidity. One of my kids was jumped and beaten bloodyt by a group, who quickly ran away, and the cop who happened upon the scene told my son to go right home, or he was going to arrest HIM. And this was in our own neighborhood. Homeland security? HA!
Adam E. Paul, Sr. November 29, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Mr. Armstrong, you have no right to comment or criticize the Baltimore County Police Department if you were not an active member of it. If you can't say something constructive don't say anything at all. There is no organization that is perfect. Most of the command members work hard to make the department best they can. There are always new and inovative ideas about how to improve.. I will not second guess Chief Johnson if he feels there is a need to reorganize the police department. I see things in the department I don't agree with based on my prior experience and education. Knowing the Chief's background and education I am sure he will do what is best for the department
Adam E. Paul, Sr. November 29, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Bart, I am sorry that you had a bad experience with your local police. I was a policeman from 1953 to 1973 and we were public servants then. If we did wrong we didn't have the F,O,P, and its staff of lawyers to defend us. The Sergeant administered discipline which was immediate and took care of the violation. You should have filed a complaint with the shift commander in the precinct you lived in. Most policeman I have met have been ladies and gentlemen. There is always a bad apple in the group.
Bart November 29, 2011 at 04:14 PM
During the years you were on the force are the same years I was a kid. The cops could be trusted to be reasonable and honest. "Serve and protect" meant something. Not the same now We didn't dare complain about the treatment our kids and their friends received; they would only become bigger targets for the police. I know, it happened to another family who dared complain. However, now, I'd be complaining big time. Then, I just prayed for the kids to get through it.
Bart November 29, 2011 at 04:43 PM
And these were, and are Baltimore County's "finest". Perhaps the shake-up going on now will change the mood of the BCPD.
Buzz Beeler November 29, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Adam, Armstrong is a kid. He acts like a kid, writes like a kid, and has the emotional level of a kid. All you have to do is read his comments like the one below. I was informed that he lives with his father and uses his father's computer. You will never get an answer out of him on any topic because he doesn't know how to effectively respond with any maturity. He's not smart enough to understand how his writing reflects on his age, maturity level and education. That's why there is not one person on this site that would agree with his abrasive, childish answers. Based on his claims of being everything from a military hero, speaking 6 languages, traveling around the world and belonging to a country club not to mention his three college degrees he has no creditability. No college graduate I know use the vocabulary he does, and I doubt there would be any country club in these parts that would allow him to be a member.
Robert Armstrong November 29, 2011 at 04:56 PM
...and Bueller is a Doofus that managed the next to impossible...he got fired from the Police Department. You were informed that I live with my Father?? By whom?? My father died in 1980. Liar.
Pam Rutledge November 30, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Jerry - I couldn't agree more. Capt. Lurz was a one of a kind!
Pam Rutledge November 30, 2011 at 12:32 AM
Robert - I really don't think you know what you're talking about with this comment. There is a woman Colonel in the BCoPD and she is one of the kindest, smartest people I have ever met. And, there are and have been minorities & women in command positions throughout the county. Try volunteering for this amazing agency for 8 years like I have. You'll have a whole new respect for what these ladies and gentlemen do every day! Sign up for a Citizen's Police Academy (starts in March) and learn what they do... I dare you!
Pam Rutledge November 30, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Adam - all of the salaries are public information. I know what each officer makes... And - they deserve it! They all had to work very hard to get to the top. Chief Johnson started as a cadet and worked his way up... How many times have these officers in the "brass" positions been shot at or risked their lives? What's that worth?
Pam Rutledge November 30, 2011 at 12:42 AM
Come on Robert... Give these ladies and gentlemen a little respect! Jeezzz!
Pam Rutledge November 30, 2011 at 12:47 AM
I disagree with both of you (Buck & Bart). Ever heard of community resource officers? Ever been to Shop-with-a-Cop? You guys are clueless when it comes to "public servants!"
Buck Harmon November 30, 2011 at 01:03 AM
Pam, ... for you to insult me, I must first value your opinion. It would seem that you have sought some kind of comfort by your volunteer efforts. Please keep in mind that the mentality that it takes to become a law enforcer parallels that of a criminal. This is exactly the reason that the number of police abuse and brutality incidents have drastically increased. If you achieve some sort of satisfaction by being involved, thats your business. My points are facts. If the " force" is effective.. why is crime on the constant rise? Ineffective training and motive. It's nice that you volunteer though.
Buck Harmon November 30, 2011 at 01:19 AM
The process of training police officers is what needs to be re-organized, not the department. Turning out heavily armed enforcement will only continue to add insult to injury. Law abiding citizens should not fear a militarized force. There will always be lots of crime, but criminals don't fear the police, there are plenty of lawyers seeing to that.... Crime pays.
Buck Harmon November 30, 2011 at 01:22 AM
Do you have to swear to an oath of some sort in order to become a volunteer? Is there any special training provided before you are put to task?
Pam Rutledge November 30, 2011 at 01:35 AM
Crime in Baltimore County is down! And as for my "comfort" as a volunteer for the BCoPD - well I was taught to respect those in authority. AND - I have a son who went through 4 years of college to become a police officer - because he wants to make a difference and help people. People like some who made comments on this article make the jobs of law enforcement more difficult. No wonder this world is such a mess - people have no respect for each other any more!
Buzz Beeler November 30, 2011 at 01:43 AM
Buck, the BCPD is an accredited law enforcement agency by CALEA. The standards are some of the most stringent in the country. http://www.calea.org/ I had the opportunity to assist in the writing of those standards as they related to traffic enforcement. The procedure is that CALEA establishes a set of complex standards on every aspect of police work. The agency is required to respond to those standards by providing a written documentation dealing with training and implementation on all phases of the process. A DUI charge must have documents outlining every aspect of how the officer effecting the arrest responds. This applies to all aspects of police work. After the inspection of all written documentation, the agency must show the CALEA Inspectors how these procedures are implemented. No easy task I assure you. It take years of work by hundreds of officers and mangers at all levels to achieve this lofted achievement.
Buck Harmon November 30, 2011 at 01:55 AM
Thank you Pam, I now understand where you are coming from.... I was taught that respect is earned
Bart November 30, 2011 at 01:56 AM
Pam, with all due respect, you are blinded by your close contact with the police department to what goes on with those of us who aren't so fortunate. The things I described did indeed happen, no matter what kind of spin you care to give out. My kids had the pleasure of getting to know the resource officer who was in their school, he was a very pleasant and wise young man. The same could not be said of the officers on the street. Perhaps they start out with altruistic intent, but with some experience, many turned into bullies. I don't mean to say that all officers are bad, many are conscientious and kind. But if there are enough of the bullies around, it paints them all with a bad brush.
Brad Nicholson November 30, 2011 at 02:05 AM
I know a short term part time job @ the Maryland State Fairgrounds that you are qualified for during the "10 Best Days of Summer!" PLENTY of raw material for you. And your eagerness shown above puts you at the top of the heap in my book.
Buck Harmon November 30, 2011 at 02:30 AM
Buzz, As with most of todays Gov. agencies, the fox guards the hen house. The Calea structure is composed of 21 members. 11 must be law enforcement and the remainder are appointed to this non-profit structure. The term accredited can be used for anything these days, it is also abused alot. I am a self appointed "accredited" fighter for Constitutional rights that are being trampled by the very same officers that swore to uphold it. Private citizen rights are violated by trained enforcers every day. Written documentation is only as accurate as the force that created it. The dumbed down public is and has been scammed into believing this stuff. I grew up in Baltimore Co. and have followed the trends of policing as well. I have seen cops drinking at local bars and driving regularly. I witnessed an off duty officer cross a double line and crash head on into a woman with a child in her car. I also witnessed the cover up.. beginning with the volunteer FD that arrived on the scene before the cops. I know cops that smoke pot as well... went through school with them. I have been disappointed on a regular basis with this kind of bad behavior. You may say that these are isolated instances but I know better. You learn a lot when you watch from the weeds over a 30 yr. span. If things were lofty with this achievement then why do they seem to be heading in an even worse direction today. It's time to re-write the pay book.
Bart November 30, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Thank you, Buck. Somewhere, somehow, BCPD has lost some of its credibility. Somebody has to get it back.
Buck Harmon November 30, 2011 at 02:44 AM
O, by the way, the Constitution remains the highest and most stringent law in the Country. It is above all other laws. I have asked several Baltimore County officers to provide me with a copy of their sworn oath to uphold it and they didn't have a clue as to why I would make such a request. I don't have a problem with the police dept., just the current trend.
Buzz Beeler November 30, 2011 at 02:58 AM
Buck, I will agree you have some valid points. The ADA case in the PD is a good example. The towing scandal in the city is another. Under Behan integrity and professionalism was paramount. I have stayed in touch with some of the current members, many of whom are supervisors and they admit there is a decline in the quality of the officers on the street. I also had several personal experiences with some encounters and was made out to be the one interrogated while the suspect stood by and snickered. A Verizon supervisor steeped and chided the officer for actions in turning the victim into the suspect. He had the records to back up his statement. It all boils down to leadership as is the case with any endeavor.
Buck Harmon November 30, 2011 at 03:11 AM
Thanks Buzz, I see the situation that has prompted this very long blog as a possible opportunity to seek positive improvement rather than a negative shortcoming for the BCPD. The REAL value to the public will come with improved training in my opinion..... enforcement of the enforcers = accountability for the people.
Buzz Beeler November 30, 2011 at 03:49 AM
Buck you brought into view the issues that I and a lot of retired officers see and I should know, I was on the other side of the badge I wore for 39 years.
Robert Armstrong November 30, 2011 at 04:31 AM
Hey Buzz, How did you dodge the draft?
Robert Armstrong November 30, 2011 at 04:35 AM
39 Years??? "Seniority and Senility ride close together."
Robert Armstrong November 30, 2011 at 04:45 AM
Ha Ha Ha Look Cole Weston's criminal behavior.
Adam E. Paul, Sr. November 30, 2011 at 08:45 PM
To All: Someone said there is something different in the county police department compared to years ago. I say there is a lack of pride in the way officers dress. There doesn't appear to be a uniform of the day any more. You see officers wearing some sort uniform sweater, later someone wearing a zip up jacket wearing a ball cap, another wearing a dress uniform. Rarely does anyone wears a hat anymore. I saw an officer driiving a marked police car and when he got out he was wearing blue jeans, a uniform shirt, with his weapon strapped to his side. He was delivering court summons and was dressed what I considered casually. A police department is a quasi-military organization. I believe respect comes for the uniform when you wear one. When you drress like a truck driver you act like one, or that is the publics opinion.

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