Baltimore City Council Grills Police Commissioner
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A tense showdown at City Hall. Days after police top brass announce a new crime strategy based on a pricey consultant’s report, the city’s top cop is grilled by the City Council. A shortage of officers and skyrocketing overtime top the list of concerns.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the fiery meeting.
Police just announced the results of that consultant’s report last Thursday. Now some city leaders are calling it a waste of taxpayer money.
A new crime fighting strategy is under fire.
“We’re paying overtime for these officers but yet the homicide rate–the shootings and everything–is going through the roof,” said City Council President Jack Young.
“This organization is very good at chasing down the bad guys,” said City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. “When we identify them and chase them down, we bring them into custody.”
Batts was on the hot seat, questioned about officer deployment.
“We’re going off empirical data. We’re not going with the winds; we’re going off of where the calls actually are,” he said.
According to a consultant’s report, city police responded to 644,000 calls for service last year, with 52 percent of officer time spent on calls.
“I just want to make sure we visually see police walking foot patrol,” said Sharon Middleton, Baltimore City Council.
But police say they do have 30 officers on foot patrol in both the eastern and western districts in high-crime areas like North Avenue and Fulton.
“Those are the areas where we have the heaviest violence and that’s where we’re putting those officers,” Batts said.
But neighbors say they don’t see it.
“Not down here,” said one resident. “No, I don’t. Further up, yeah, but not down here.”
“Now that it’s cold, no. They’re not going to walk; they’re in their cars,” said another.
The consultant’s report cost the city $285,000.
“We’ve done all these reports. I’m tired of reports; I’m tired of wasting city taxpayers’ money for consultants,” said Young.
Council members say now they want action.
Council President Jack Young voted in favor of approving the funding for that police consultant’s report back in April. He now says the report did not provide specific solutions.
The police commissioner says they are in negotiations with the union and hope to get more flexibility to fill the shortages on certain shifts.
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