By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(Feb. 16, 2023) With the stroke of a pen at the Berlin Mayor and Town Council meeting Monday night, the town proved it was willing to invest in its police by entering into the Law Enforcement Officers Pension System (LEOPS).
“This is something we should have done a long time ago and I’m glad we were able to do it now,” Tyndall said.
The town hopes this move will help ease the exodus from the department, as Berlin police officers leave for better-paying jobs with better retirement prospects. For years, local law enforcement and its advocates have lobbied for the town to pull itself abreast of other departments in the region as an attractive employment destination.
Mayor Zack Tyndall signed documents confirming the move following an hour-long work session when the panel and other town officials, including Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing, discussed the findings of a LEOPS study.
The move enrolls the town into the program through the Maryland State Retirement System, which will bill the town annually, according to a memo from town human resources Director Kelsey Jensen. Annual bills are sent each December and include the prior fiscal year. The town will not see its first bill until December 2024.
Ultimately, Jensen wrote that enrolling in the program is a win for the town.
“I would recommend that we pursue the LEOPS program for our officers,” Jensen wrote in her memo. “Public and staff safety is a top priority. This program will allow our officers to retire at an earlier age which will create a safer work environment for them and the agency. It will make us competitive with surrounding agencies and will assist with recruitment and retention efforts, as employees are our number one resource”
The total cost for LEOPS in FY24 is projected to be $349,815, according to the memo.
However, in another memo, Tyndall said that findings from the LEOPS study projected that the total financial impact will be $236,000 in FY24. This is due to the casino funds the town plans to use to offset some of the cost.