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by Peter Moskos

December 8, 2008

Less overtime = More murder?

Messing with police overtime is like messing with a dog's food. You better makes sure it doesn't come back to bite you. "It's like our heroin," one cop says in Cop in the Hood, "it's just something we need."

The root of the problem is that half the department is assigned to patrol, chasing radio calls. So when it comes to officers that have the freedom to do police free from 911 calls for service--and we all know that 911 is a Joke--cutting overtime can have a huge impact on the kinds of policing that can actually prevent crime.

Justin Fenton writes the story in the Sun:

Killings rose as police cut OT
Despite official denials, union chief sees effect on city safety

Baltimore's deadliest month of 2008 coincided with substantial reductions to the Police Department's overtime budget - cuts that the police union president says are interfering with investigations and diminishing neighborhood patrols.

Prompted by a directive from Mayor Sheila Dixon to cut more than $21 million this year amid the worsening economy, the department spent $800,000 less for overtime in November than in the same month the previous year, according to former homicide Detective Robert F. Cherry, who was elected union president this fall.

The month saw 31 homicides, the worst November in nine years. The trend has continued, with six killings in the first six days of this month.

"Detectives are being told, you can't finish working a case, you have to go home. We can't put foot men in a certain area, it will cost overtime. And district commanders are being beaten down if they spend over," Cherry said. "You're lying to the public if you say we're attacking all forms of crime, and you're lying if you say the budget cuts have no effect."

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