Baltimore’s Police Department has ordered about 160 injured police officers on medical leave or working permanent light-duty jobs – including more than 100 hurt in the line of duty – to retire from the force, reports the Baltimore Sun. Officials describe it as a tough decision that will save money while ensuring that the officers are fairly compensated, nearly all with pensions, for their time served. The police union describes it as a morale-busting move that will deplete the department of valuable employees while sending an ominous message to potential recruits.
Police leaders have sought to reduce the number of officers doing light-duty work, which would enable the department to hire more patrol officers. The forced retirements, outlined in letters to officers this month, mark the first substantial move to fulfill that goal. The push within the Police Department is a part of a similar, citywide movement to reduce workers on permanent light duty. “In this city, in these times, with this crime, we really can’t afford to have 5 percent of our officers on light duty,” said city Labor Commissioner Sean R. Malone. The department has about 3,200 officers. The officers on light duty cost about $10 million a year.