Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

New FOP leader hailed as ‘effective advocate’

Canales aims to protect police funding, expand outreach

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Bryan Haynes⁄The Star
Vince Canales was named president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 89 in Upper Marlboro after four years as vice president. Canales, who joined the Prince George’s County Police Department in 1992, also has served as a patrol officer and in the criminal investigations unit.
The new president of the county’s police union will be an ‘‘effective advocate” as he works to secure funding for the Prince George’s County Police Department, boost its numbers and increase outreach in the community, colleagues and local leaders said.

Cpl. Vince Canales, who now heads the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 89 in Upper Marlboro, ‘‘has a great relationship with members of the [County] Council,” said Councilman Samuel H. Dean (D-Dist. 6) of Mitchellville. ‘‘I think as a result of that he can be a very effective advocate for the police that serve this county.”

Lt. Dean M. Jones, one of the lodge’s two new vice presidents, said Canales is ‘‘very connected politically.”

‘‘He has a good knowledge of how the system works in Annapolis and here in the county,” Jones said.

Canales, who previously served four years as a vice president of Lodge 89, began his two-year term as president Jan. 1, along with the lodge’s other elected officers.

Canales, 40, joined the police department in 1992 and since has worked as a patrol officer and in the criminal investigations unit.

Canales’ connections will help him lead Lodge 89 — which represents 2,500 active duty and retired county officers — through what he described as ‘‘trying times with budget issues.”

As governments at the county, state and federal levels face increasingly tight economic situations, Canales said his biggest challenge would be to fight for adequate funding to keep the county’s equipment, pay and benefits competitive with other police departments.

‘‘Public safety in my opinion is one of those things you can’t make concessions on,” Canales said.

Dean said Canales is helping county officials develop incentives to attract more officers to the police department. The county is trying to build the police force from about 1,500 officers to 2,000, in part to cut down on overtime.

Canales is ‘‘able to help us understand some of the issues we need to consider as we” work toward that goal, Dean said.

Retired Cpl. Percy Alston, the lodge’s previous president, described Canales as ‘‘very meticulous and dedicated” in his approach to working with police finances.

‘‘He will be able to dissect the county’s budget and spending” to minimize any waste or inappropriate spending that might exist, said Alston, who is still active with the union as the state legislative chairman.

Canales also is responsible for seeing to completion a memorial to honor county officers killed in the line of duty. The memorial, representing 24 fallen officers, is being built at the lodge, located on Old Largo Road.

The memorial, which Canales and Alston started working on four years ago, is scheduled to be unveiled in May, Canales said. Union leaders are busy trying to raise the $150,000 they need to complete the memorial, which will cost an estimated $500,000.

Community involvement is another place where the new leadership wants to focus its energy, Canales said.

The lodge is already an outlet for helping individual officers who want to sponsor fundraisers or special programs in their neighborhood, said Cpl. Kerry R. Watson Jr., who was elected vice president along with Jones.

But as president, Canales said he wants to make Lodge 89 more proactive in starting up its own programs that engage the county’s youth and dispel negative perceptions of police.

Canales said, for example, he and other leaders at the lodge hope to identify a local school where they can develop a pilot program involving after-school activities, such as tutoring.

‘‘That’s the big one for me,” Canales said.

E-mail Andy Zieminski at