Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A better police force without raising taxes. A new report by the city police union unveils how it can happen, but it may mean some sweeping changes for the police department.
Gigi Barnett has more.
The Baltimore police union spent a year compiling a 15-page report. In it, the union calls the city’s strategy to improve the force outdated, ineffective and reactive.
Union President Bob Cherry unveiled the report Wednesday, saying city leaders can streamline the department without raising taxes.
“The money just isn’t there,” Cherry said. “Don’t hire as many more cops then.”
The report comes at a time when more than a dozen city officers were caught up in a towing kickback scandal that stole thousands from drivers. In addition, the city’s top cop, Commissioner Fred Bealefeld, is set to retire next month. Also, crime at the Inner Harbor is up.
The union wants more training for officers, competitive wages to keep the ones they have and, instead of a bigger force, better management.
“We will challenge anyone who says that you need more bodies on the street to make Baltimore a safer city. No. You need to adjust your game plan,” Cherry said.
The union says Baltimore needs a better-educated police force and so its report is calling for the department to hire new officers with at least two years in college.
“At the end of the day, what this police department needs is effective policing. It’s not who we hire, it’s what kinds of folks we hire,” Cherry said.
But last year, violent crime was brought to a historic low in Baltimore. City police leaders say they’re one step ahead of the union. In a written statement to WJZ, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says, “While we value their suggestions, the BPD has already identified and focused on many of the areas identified by the FOP. We have made significant progress in making Baltimore a safer city and enhancing the professional integrity and development of the agency.”
The union says it will offer the report to the department’s new commissioner.