BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The group that represents Baltimore city police officers says that Baltimore is a dangerous city for its residents and its officers.
“Baltimore is a dangerous city and the utmost care and caution should be taken as you go about your daily tasks,” Sgt. Michael Mancuso said.
Mancuso, the president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge no. 3, responded Tuesday to the crime plan Police Commissioner Michael Harrison released last week saying there aren’t enough officers to respond to 911 calls.
“The Baltimore Police Department is currently 500 Police Officers short of the number required for effectiveness, with 400 of those positions needed in the Patrol Division. The current deployment of Patrol Officers will not be able to, under any circumstances, implement the new crime plan as intended. As it stands now, there are not enough Officers to even respond to the number of calls to 911, not to mention the addition of micro-zones, community engagement, and proactive policing. The plan, as presented, is untenable,” Mancuso added.
Commissioner Harrison acknowledges a Department of Justice Report, saying that the Baltimore Police Department was inadequately staffed, but says a number of technological changes will free more officers up.
“I think it’s almost impossible to know that because the number now in a paper-based environment is going to be a different number with a technology environment,” Harrison said in a press conference in mid-July.
Mancuso also said the department’s financial needs are vast as their physical structures are “hazardous and failing.” He said patrol cars are lacking equipment and are outdated.
“In order for any new plan to be effective, it must begin with the truth regarding the reality of the Department’s current resources. Commissioner Harrison’s plan does not! In fact, it is written as if the Baltimore Police Department is flush with trained personnel, modern technology, and unlimited fiscal resources,” he said.
He said the department is unable to sometimes account for the status of the officers or the location of their assignment.
Mancuso then goes onto say that he was left “speechless” by Harrison’s recent public statement that Baltimore isn’t a dangerous place.
“For him to try to alleviate the public’s fear of being a victim of violent crime by stating that most suspects and victims know each other, is outright fantasy,” he said. “As a 30-year active veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, and the current President of the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3, I want the public, both citizens and visitors, to know that the current public safety situation in Baltimore is precarious, despite the Commissioner’s unfortunate attempt to appease you.”
Mancuso said he has no reason to “sugar coat” the city’s current condition because his position is not dependent on support from the Mayor or City Council.
“I applaud the fact that Commissioner Harrison believes that he can make a difference in what is a very bad situation in our City, and I have no doubt that his success in New Orleans made him look like the perfect candidate for his current position. Unfortunately, Baltimore is not New Orleans and success implementing a Federal Consent Decree in New Orleans does not translate to solving our deep-rooted crime problem in Baltimore,” Mancuso said.
Harrison responded to Mancuso’s letter:
My five-year Departmental Transformational Plan, along with my Crime Reduction Strategy, is designed to make BPD more efficient and effective, and the city significantly safer. In addition, one of my highest priorities as Commissioner is making BPD a better place to work. To that end, as the plans clearly explain, we are launching numerous new initiatives, including a renewed focus on recruitment and retention to increase the number of officers on the street; improving technology and applying smart deployment strategies to reduce officers’ workloads; and improving working conditions to increase officer morale.
Mayor Jack Young, the Baltimore City Council, Baltimore’s delegation to the Maryland Legislature, Baltimore’s federal Congressional delegation, and national policing organizations comprised of current and former police chiefs and law enforcement experts have all been overwhelmingly supportive of both plans.
Commissioner Harrison also says it’s about building trust and intervention before crime occurs.
“Those shootings and murders, by in large, are by people who know one another,” Harrison said.
Mancuso says that assertion is “outright fantasy” and spent a good portion of Tuesday talking about how dangerous a city Baltimore is to police.
The FOP did not make anyone available on camera on Tuesday.