BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison Thursday unveiled the department’s new five-year crime reduction and departmental transformation plan.
Among the priorities outlined in the plan are efforts to work with communities to reduce fear of police while reducing crime, increased foot patrols and business checks in crime-prone areas and using research and intelligence to drive deployment decisions.
The department is also aiming for a performance goal of ten minute response times for all emergency calls.
Among the items highlighted in the Department’s plan: Civilianizing dozens of roles; Setting a 10-minute response time goal on emergency calls; Changing patrol strategy to focus on microzones, or targeted areas of violent crime, based on data; Adding data analyst to SAO. pic.twitter.com/MRnIxekPoZ
— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) July 18, 2019
“In our new vision for the department, we have now established a path for making us one of the finest police departments in the county,” Harrison said during a news conference announcing the plan.
The plan highlights the need for more targeted enforcement, pointing out that new patrol and district action team “micro zones” account for just five percent of the city’s geography but contained one-third of the city’s gun violence over the past five years.
This is the first time we’ve gotten a look at maps of BPD’s micro zones, a 5% geographic area of the city police say is responsible for a third of the city’s gun violence. pic.twitter.com/hmub3SL5yz
— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) July 18, 2019
The department announced and implemented the micro zone plan last month.
Patrol officers will be tasked with conducting foot patrols, business checks and “knock-and-talks” with known offenders on parole or probation, while district action teams will also work to gather intelligence from those arrested that would be shared with the rest of the department.
A key component of the plan is flexibility; Harrison said the department will constantly assess their progress and what other improvements can be made.
“The plans mark a first step in a continuous process that will use data-driven and evidence-based approaches to prevent, disrupt and deter violent crime and to solve crimes when they occur,” he said.
Harrison said the long-term plan also addresses the need to recruit and retain officers among its ranks, a problem the police union among others has pointed to as a perennial issue.
“We need to ensure there’s a robust pipeline of new officers being hired, not just to keep up with attrition but grow the size of the department which will both make the city safer and ease the burden on existing officers,” Harrison said.
Last week, the department unveiled a $200,000 digital marketing campaign to recruit new officers from the city as well as more female officers and officers of color.
Harrison called the early results from the campaign “very encouraging.”
When asked how many more officers need to be hired, he said he doesn’t have a specific number just yet.
“I think it’s almost impossible to know that because the number now in a paper environment is going to be much different than a technology environment,” Harrison said.
The plan will also move some shooting and robbery detectives back to the district level, which the department hopes will help detectives develop better relationships with the community and better identify crime trends.
The long-term plan also calls for strengthening partnerships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Harrison said he and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby will also meet weekly to review homicides, non-fatal shootings and armed robberies in an effort to strengthen the prosecution of those committing crimes.
“Having worked with five police commissioners in three years and three mayoral administrations, I’m incredibly encouraged,” Mosby said.
The city’s police union said it has not yet reviewed the plan but congratulated Harrison on releasing it and said having a plan is important moving forward.
— Baltimore City FOP (@FOP3) July 18, 2019
City council president Brandon Scott released a statement on the plan, saying he is “heartened” by many of its components.
“I’m thankful for Commissioner Harrison’s leadership and dedication to reforming the BPD into a 21st century police department that our residents can have faith in. The Baltimore City Council will hold the police department accountable to this plan,” he said. “I wait with anticipation for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice’s crime plan. All of our agencies have a role to play in reducing violence so that we can truly address the disease of gun violence across our city.”
A spokesperson for Governor Larry Hogan’s office also weighed in on the plan Thursday.
“Governor Hogan has long urged city leaders to present a comprehensive crime plan, and now that one has been put forward, we look forward to discussing it with Commissioner Harrison, Mayor Young, and city officials,” press secretary Shareese Churchill said in an email.
Ultimately, Harrison said it will take police and the community working together to make a difference, and he hopes the plan will help achieve that goal.
“We all know there’s a lot of work to do to make the Baltimore Police Department the department we all want it to be and Baltimore the city it should be, but as I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I’m certain that when working together, the police and the community as one, we will get there.”
Read the full plans here: