BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new class of recruits for the Baltimore Police Department met their soon-to-be boss Monday afternoon.
Commissioner Michael Harrison welcomed the future officers to what he’s calling a new police department.
One sit-up at a time, the 29 trainees have worked their way toward a blue uniform and a badge.
Harrison’s overhaul of the department comes during what has already proven to be another violent year in Baltimore. As of Thursday, 196 murders have happened in the city in 2019.
The body count isn’t the only thing on the commissioner’s mind as the new recruits prepare for the tough task of policing Baltimore’s streets.
“These new recruits are going to be trained within our consent decree requirements. It is a changing culture in terms of how we deal with things,” he said.
It’s a cultural shift in a historically troubled department, as former members of its disgraced Gun Trace Task Force sit behind bars in federal prison and a strained relationship between the community and police following the 2015 Baltimore uprising.
This class of recruits, Harrison said, will graduate with a new focus.
“All of the curriculum is wrapped around community policing and being community focused, de-escalation,” Harrison said.
The recruits will have 34 weeks of training before officially being sworn in as officers.