An August 12 Washington Post story on the Maryland State Police ticket-winning slowdown stated incorrectly that about 1,650 troopers had joined Local 400 of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union. In fact, Local 400 president Thomas R. Mcnutt said that many of the state's 1,650 troopers had signed union suthorization cards.
Maryland State Police have sent Gov. Harry R. Hughes a message that so far has cost the state at least $115,000.
Since the Maryland legislature ended its session in April without giving state police a pay raise, there has been a 40 percent drop in the number of citations issued to traffic violators, as troopers have protested by giving warning tickets instead of citations.
"I never realized we pulled that much revenue," Trooper Michael Pasker of the College Park barracks said. "It may cost the state of Maryland a heck of a lot in future."
Last month, Hughes said state police would get "special attention" for a pay increase in the fall, although he has maintained a hard line on pay increases for state employes. Police Superintendent Col. Thomas S. Smith has requested an 18 percent increase for his troopers, compared to an 11 percent increase over the past three years.
Despite the governor's announcement, Pasker said the slowdown is still on. "Most of the troopers here aren't satisfied with the increase," he said. "It still doesn't bring us into competition with the county policemen around here."
The starting salary for Maryland State police officers is currently $13,500, or $3,000 less than the starting salary of a Montgomery County police officer.
But at the state police barracks in Rockville, Sgt. Lewis Pfeltz said the response to Hughes' statement had been favorable and the number of citations issued had increased. For instance, state police in Rockville issued 532 citations during the last two weeks, he said, compared with 387 during the previous two weeks. He said the normal two-week figure was between 600 and 700.
Revenue from traffic citations in June, the latest month for which statistics are available, is $115,000 below that collected in June of last year, said John Fedorkowicz of the Maryland District Court accounting office. The long-term effects of the slowdown, however, won't be felt until figures for July and August are calculated, he said.
At the same time, state police are trying to build a stronger organization to get the pay increases, collective bargaining and binding arbitration rights they want. To get more clout, about 1,650 state troopers joined the AFL-CIO affiliated United Food and Commercial Workers during the past three weeks, said union president Tom McNutt.
"Memberships are still pouring in," McNutt said. "Police have finally got to the stage where they recognize that loose-knit organizations aren't effective when it comes to bargaining," he said.