Reporting Mary Bubala
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– This month, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld marks a major milestone.
As Mary Bubala reports, he will become the longest serving police commissioner in a decade.
He reigns over the streets of Baltimore. But three decades ago, Commissioner Bealefeld started as a cop walking the beat.
Now this month, he begins his fifth year as police commissioner.
“I am just a blue-collar kid with a modest education that’s poured his soul into this job for the last 31 years. That’s what I know,” Bealefeld said.
The commissioner met up with WJZ in a Baltimore City neighborhood trying to overcome crime.
He talks about progress: the lowest homicide rate in more than 25 years, non-fatal shootings cut in half since 2000 and juvenile homicides at their lowest rate in 30 years.
But the commissioner says more needs to be done.
“The goal is beyond the numbers because here’s what we know: while the numbers have come down over the last four years, it hasn’t changed people’s perceptions,” he said. “Some of it is foot patrols, so they see officers in their block, making sure that officers are courteous and they are delivering great service.”
Appointed in 2007, Bealefeld brought stability to a force that had a revolving door of police commissioners.
His trademark blunt talk is peppered with analogies, including this one:
“They want you to catch shark, they want you to catch barracudas, they want you to catch all the dangerous fish,” he said.
It’s meant to help his cops understand why casting a wide net to make arrests doesn’t work. Bealefeld teaches targeted enforcement to catch criminals.
“What the neighborhood really wants you to do is go through with a spear, and jam it right through the top of the shark,” Bealefeld said.
Commissioner Bealefeld will officially mark his fifth year in office on Nov. 20.