Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her two appointees on the Board of Estimates today approved a $200,000 extension of a long-running contract for therapy and other psychological services for Baltimore police officers.
Over the objections of City Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, the board allowed a 90-day extension of the contract with Psychology Consultants Associated (PCA), a practice located in Lutherville just north of the Beltway.
At issue was not the value of the therapy, but the circumstances of the contract.
Arnold M. Jolivet, managing director of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association, called the extension an example of “an illegal mechanism to sustain existing contracts” rather than putting expiring contracts out to competitive bids.
Saying the city only uses extensions as a last resort, City Solicitor George Nilson argued that the contract would be extended for only a brief period as the Department of Purchasing prepared a new agreement.
Acting purchasing agent Timothy M. Krus said it was imperative that the police “not suffer a break in service” during the processing and awarding of the new contract.
On its website, PCA calls itself an authority in addressing the emotional concerns of police officers around the state. One of its specialties is diagnosing and treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“The primary reason why therapeutic work with officers in distress is helpful is that the officers can be themselves. They do not have to maintain an authoritative bearing of someone who is in control in the therapy session. . . This type of atmosphere has powerful therapeutic benefits,” PCA notes.
Originally approved in January 2006, the contract will amount to $2.14 million when it expires on January 31, 2013.
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young did not attend today’s board meeting.