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Emily Opilo

The Baltimore Sun

May 20, 2024

The cost of Baltimore’s executive protection unit that guards the city’s mayor, state’s attorney and police commissioner has ballooned in the past few years, but neither the mayor nor the state’s attorney’s budgets assist with those costs, a report from Baltimore’s inspector general found.

Baltimore spent $2.9 million on executive protection in fiscal year 2023, according to the report issued Thursday by Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming. That cost excludes the price of residential protection, which she estimated to cost an additional $400,000 and $600,000 annually.

The cost of executive protection coverage is borne by the Baltimore Police Department, which has listed the expense in the city budget with its own line item since fiscal year 2021, the report noted. That year, the city spent $1.7 million on executive protection. The cost expanded to $2.9 million in fiscal year 2023, and the budget for fiscal year 2024, which does not end until June 30, is $2.7 million. Mayor Brandon Scott’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2025 projects the expense to jump to $4 million.

Cumming’s report was prompted by a tipster who complained that the mayor and state’s attorney’s offices were not budgeting for the expense. The report confirmed that neither office is contributing, but found that is not uncommon when comparing Baltimore with cities of similar size. Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee and Oakland, California, all pay for executive protection from their police budgets, the report found.

Baltimore’s Executive Protection Unit has 16 members, all of whom are sworn BPD officers. Seven are assigned to Scott, four to State’s Attorney Ivan Bates and four to Police Commissioner Richard Worley. All three officials are eligible for residential protection at their homes, but only one is currently using it, the report said. The cost of residential protection is borne by the regional police district where the official lives.

Cumming’s report also found that overtime costs have increased for executive protection. In 2021, $188,788 in overtime was paid while that cost expanded to $600,711 for 2023. That cost includes overtime for BPD members outside the Executive Protection Unit who work executive protection shifts as well as shifts picked up by unit members beyond the scope of executive protection. Members of the unit are allowed to work secondary assignments for overtime such as sporting events, traffic camera reviews, and building security.

Cumming’s report recommends the unit study optimum staffing and scheduling to use the unit’s members more efficiently. She also encouraged the mayor, state’s attorney and BPD to identify cost-saving opportunities in the unit’s budget.

In a response to the report, Worley issued a letter saying the police department agrees with Cumming’s findings and has already begun to implement measures to reduce overtime and standardize procedures for the department.

The city’s proposed budget for next year lists all expenses related to executive protection, including residential protection, on one line item for better transparency, Worley wrote. A schedule in the works for the coming year will include fewer weekend overtime hours, Worley added.

“We believe that these changes will reduce overtime expenditures, standardize operations within the unit and fully account for all the personnel assigned to protective services,” Worley said.

Scott’s office deferred to BPD for comment Thursday.

Bates issued a statement noting that he was in office for only six months of the period the report covered. Bates was elected in 2022. Bates said he understood the recommendations of the inspector general and said it would be appropriate for the mayor’s office to lead discussions on potential tightening.

“My staff and I are prepared to participate in any deliberations necessary to address all concerns appropriately,” he said.


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