Statement By Chief J. Thomas Manger Before the Ballot Questions Advisory Committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee
I am Chief J. Thomas Manger the Police Chief of Montgomery County. I am here to discuss Question B on this year’s ballot. This question addresses an issue that was unanimously addressed by the County Council in 2011 and now is presented to the voters in our County for their consideration. I echo the urging of Council President Berliner, and the entire Council that he represents, for this committee to recommend a vote “FOR” this ballot question. I am also here speaking on behalf of our County Executive, Ike Leggett.
This is an issue of effective police management efforts being thwarted by a provision in the County Code which has overreached reasonable notions of collective bargaining and labor peace. Currently, I do not possess a single management right that can be excluded from bargaining. No other Department head in Montgomery County has such a restriction on their ability to manage their organization. It is a hindrance to how the Police department operates and it directly impacts our ability to make necessary adjustments or innovations to our policing efforts.
I understand and value the importance of collective bargaining for the officers who work in the field every day. But, the fact is that thirteen years ago (1999), before I was the Chief of Police, the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) recommended that “the (County) Council look at how the “effects bargaining” provision in the law has, in practice, affected police management’s ability to manage conduct issues.” This was done well before my arrival in the County and clearly demonstrates an acknowledgement of this problem years before the Council took action.
In 2011, the Montgomery County Organizational Reform Commission (ORC) again addressed the topic of effects bargaining. Their report stated the following: “Effects bargaining has hampered the ability of the police department to issue directives to govern how police officers operate.” The Commission recommended “…amending (the law) to make the scope of bargaining consistent with the scope of bargaining in the collective bargaining laws for Fire and general County employees.” Both the OLO and the ORC identified the issue, again, but this time the County Council followed through with lengthy hearings and appropriate legislation to restrict “effects bargaining.”
It is an important part of this story to explain what the Department, and the County, does not seek to accomplish by this legislation: We are not attempting to change any other subjects of bargaining. We are not attempting to eliminate bargaining over salary, wages, pensions, benefits, hours, working conditions, personal patrol vehicles, the processing or settlement of grievances concerning the interpretation and implementation of the contract, or any matters that affect the health and safety of officers.
My police management team needs the ability to exercise their rights, as provided within the law, without having to potentially bargain over the decisions they make every day. The fact is we are in a constant state of bargaining and we need some ability to manage the police department without spending hours on end attempting to bargain over whether or not officers need to answer e-mails or determining if the Department can issue electronic ticket writing machines to only the most senior officers and not to the Officers who need the equipment the most. Our community expects more from their police department and this is an important part of meeting that expectation.
I have a responsibility to this community to make timely and prudent decisions. This is not possible when all of my management rights are subject to negotiation. The fact is because of effects bargaining the union could simply decline to consider new policies and programs. Sometimes years passed before agreement was reached or, as is the case now, many items still sit because of effects bargaining. I ask nothing more than to be given the ability to do my job without having to bargain every action I take. Restricting effects bargaining will still allow the union to bargain over the most meaningful collective bargaining provisions that will remain in the County Code.
Again, I urge you to recommend a vote “FOR” on Question (B) and support the police department.
Produced by Montgomery County Office of Public Information