By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore

The Baltimore City Council seems determined to increase its influence over the Baltimore Police Department’s (BPD) budget.

According to a report by WBAL-TV, the Council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to block an ordinance that provided $21 million in supplemental funding to the BPD. The committee’s chair, Brandon Scott (D-2), said police spent the money before asking the Council’s approval. “You can’t just waltz in here and ask the council to approve $21 million in overtime for the Police Department without talking to anyone,” Scott said during a council meeting July 23. “We know that we’re not seeing the bang for the buck on the streets because we’re still seeing high levels of violence,” Scott added.

The Baltimore Police Department and City Council are at odds over police over time. (Twitter Photo)

Some members of the committee argue BPD spending the $21 million could violate the city charter and the Council’s attorney is attempting to determine whether the BPD is required to get the Council’s approval to spend the money.

Recently, the AFRO reported Councilman Leon Pinkett (D-7), vice-chair of the Budget and Appropriations committee, as well as vice-chair of Taxation, Finance and Economic Development, said the council’s heightened scrutiny has been sparked in great part by their initial “last minute” approval of the $21 million supplemental spending bill to cover BPD overtime pay.

“The reality is, these supplemental bills have been happening for subsequent years and it’s prevented us from being able to invest in other things,” Pinkett told the AFRO.

The BPD argues the lack of patrol officers (the department is 400 patrol officers short according to some estimates), is wreaking havoc on their ability to rein in overtime pay.

“We are in negotiations, and some of those negotiations, you know, we can’t talk about the Fraternal Order of Police, but we are looking at our schedule,” Paul Williams, BPD’s director of fiscal services told WBAL-TV. “We have transferred 115 officers from out of administration, back into street patrol,” Williams said. “We have not seen the effect of that transfer as of yet. We should be able to make our analysis or review in the next two to three pay periods.”

The city and FOP ratified a short-term three percent pay raise and a $500 bonus for BPD in April, retroactive to July 1, 2017. That agreement expired June 30.

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor