By Dan Menefee
Maryland taxpayers could save $11 million annually if 127 of the current 1,426 uniformed positions in the Maryland State Police were replaced with civilian employees, according to a report released by the Office of Legislative Audits.
The audit found the positions were not involved in daily law enforcement activities.
The savings would be found in lower salaries and fringe benefits attributed to civilian employees, which would include a $7.8 million reduction in annual pension costs.
“Our study revealed that [the Department of State Police] does not have personnel policies that specifically address the use of sworn troopers in positions that can be fulfilled by civilian employees,” said Legislative Auditor Thomas Barnickel. “Consequently, those positions have not been formally identified nor has DSP conducted periodic analyses or studies to determine whether positions held by troopers should be performed by lower costing civilian employees.”
The study found that the state contributed nearly 85% of the pension costs for uniformed officers — as opposed to only 17% for civilians in similar positions.
In one example, an administrative position currently held by a trooper costs $174,000 annually whereas a civilian employee serving in the same capacity would cost $57,000, a savings of $117,000.
While MSP agreed the positions were candidates for civilian staffing they “preferred” 32 positions remain filled by sworn troopers and believed that 11 positions should always remain staffed by uniformed officers.
Auditors also found that the 127 positions were filled by uniformed officers because of “past budgetary restrictions on civilian hiring.”
To achieve the savings, OLA recommended civilianizing the positions by moving those officers into law enforcement activities as positions there become open — and filling the vacant administrative positions with civilians.
The report was requested in the Joint Chairmen’s Report by Senate Budget Chair Edward Kasemeyer and House Appropriations Chair Delegate Maggie McIntosh last April. Neither would speak to the findings in the audit.
“I haven’t even read it yet,” Kasemeyer said.
Dan Menefee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org