A Montgomery County judge yesterday ordered the reinstatement of 10 county policemen to motorcycle duty after the officers had been transferred to normal patrols at a lower pay scale.
County police once had 40 patrolmen assigned to its motorcycle squad who specialized in traffic duty and related investigations. Because motorcycle duty constitutes "hazardous work," they earned a 5 percent pay differential.
But the motorcycle squads did not respond to regular police calls. So in February Police Chief Bernard D. Crooke, citing rising crime in the county, transferred 11 of the officers to regular patrols to strengthen his force.
Ten of the officers filed suit in Montgomery Circuit Court, saying they had lost the 5 percent salary differential and that the transfers were "punitive" since they were based on their productivity in writing tickets, according to their attorney, Alan Katz. They argued that a police hearing board should have heard the case before the transfers were made.
That argument was based on a section of the Maryland Law Enforcement Officers Bill Of Rights that says that in the case of transfers, loss of pay or reassignments considered to be punitive measures, "the law enforcement agency shall give notice to the law enforcement officer that he is entitled to a hearing on the issues by a hearing board."
Circuit Court Judge Rosalyn Bell yesterday agreed, ordering the reinstatement of the officers at their former wage and ordering that the case be considered by a hearing board.
Assistant county attorney Bruce Sherman said the decision would be appealed and that the county will also request stay of the judge's order pending the outcome of that appeal.
"We feel the police department's response to rising crime outweighs the need for specialized traffic enforcement," said Sherman.