Bert Rice is stationed at Tipton Airfield, where he receives instructions from the Anne Arundel County Police Department for his next crime-fighting helicopter mission, reports the Baltimore Sun. He has clocked in more than 125 hours this spring, but he won’t be paid for it; he’s a volunteer.
As local governments struggle with budget problems, police departments throughout the Baltimore area are relying on highly trained volunteers like Rice to perform critical tasks.
Ex-government employees scrutinize crime data in Howard County, looking for trends. In Baltimore County, volunteers serve as information technology specialists. And an unpaid forensic scientist in Anne Arundel helps break long-unsolved cases.
Between volunteer and auxiliary programs, county governments in the Baltimore area save between $1 million and $2 million a year, police departments estimate. And the nearly 500 volunteers in those programs help return uniformed officers to street patrols, making the free labor more acceptable to public employee unions.