Maryland state police are planning to step up their week-old job action today in spite of threats of disciplinary action made by the state police superintendent, Col. Thomas Smith.
Smith told troopers Tuesday night that while he agreed that they were entitled to pay raises and other benefits they are seeking in their 1979 contract, he did not agree with their tactics.
State police began their slowdown, making "by the book," inspections of cars, last Thursday. According to Smith speeding tickets issued on state trooper-patrolled highways have been reduced by 74 percent since then.
Benjamin Wolman, attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents about 1,100 members of the 1,300 member force, said the FOP board had decided not to put to a vote Smith's request that the job action be called off.
Smith yesterday outlined a four-step plan of disciplinary action that he said would go into effect at 12:01 a.m. today.
The plan includes:
Daily monitoring of individual trooper performance and production between officers and traffic violators - contacts by state police division commanders.
A review of the information to identify any area where public safety or welfare might be affected.
If it is determined that public safety or welfare might be affected, appropriate disciplinary actions may be taken after the case is reviewed and a hearing held, Smith said.
Any disciplinary action taken may include loss of a police vehicle, suspension, demotion, loss of leave or other appropriate action such as transfer or reassignment.
Wolman of the FOP said that his group would deal with disciplinary actions "as they occur, if and when they occur. In my view the state police are still doing their job," he said. "They are stopping those traveling at extremely excessive speeds, those driving intoxicated and those driving recklessly."
"The state troopers are doing their jobs," Wolman said. "They are reporting for work as assigned. What's more important, minor speeding violations or one stop for a drunk driver?"
Under the FOP plan, as of today officers will stop volunterring to work overtime hours helping with security at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. In addition, they will not volunteer to take part in "Operation Yellowjacket," a program designed to cut down on drunk and reckless drivers through strict enforcement.
The state police first voted in favor of a slowdown last Wednesday, saying they wanted to pressure Acting Gov. Blair Lee III into recommending a number of additions to the state police budget for next year.
The police want a 9 percent pay raise, three added longevity steps of $500 each for men after 10, 14 and 18 years on the force, 200 more troopers, more police cars, eductional incentive pay and elimination of the current $1,800 a year limit on overtime pay.
Lee was critical of the police vote for a job action and said yesterday that he would support any disciplinary action Smith took.
"As a PR (public relations) move, this leaves something to be desired," Lee said last week. "If they think this is a good way to get items onto the governor's budget, they are mistaken.
Representatives from Lee's office and FOP representatives including Wolman are expected to meet at the governor's office late next week to discuss the FOP's proposals.
The two new steps of the slowdown scheduled to begin today are to continue for two weeks, Wolman said. "The "by the book," inspections will continue indefintely, he said, until the troopers can receive some assurance that "their proposals will be seriously considered."