BALTIMORE (WJZ) — President Donald Trump called out Baltimore again in a speech Tuesday to the nation on police reform — pointing out that no arrests were made in a majority of murder cases in the city last year.
“In many cases local law enforcement is underfunded understaffed, and under support,” Trump said. “Forty seven percent of all murders in Chicago and 68% of all murders in Baltimore went without arrests last year.”
Trump emphasized the need to respect and support law enforcement as he signed an executive order Tuesday addressing policing reforms amid a groundswell of civil unrest.
Trump’s order is shaped by three key components: credentialing and certifying police departments, boosting information-sharing to better track officers with excessive use-of-force complaints and creating services for addressing mental health, drug addiction and homelessness. But it doesn’t make federal funding conditional to those reforms, but instead potentially prioritizes some grants for departments that meet all those guidelines, CBS News reported.
Baltimore City police confirmed the president’s statistic Tuesday saying they had a 31% homicide clearance rate, or rate of closing cases, in 2019.
A spokesperson said since Commissioner Michael Harrison arrived in 2019, the department has re-assessed assets and invested into the homicide unit, including 14 new investigators.
Now, the department is focusing on staffing and reduction in caseloads for homicide.
Additionally, the department is investing into accountability tools being put into place and the unit is building on Consent Decree policies and training.
So far this year, the clearance rate is higher at 45%.
“The Baltimore Police Department recognizes the need to improve our Homicide clearance rate and continues to make the necessary changes to be more effective and efficient. There have been several important improvements made which include not only increasing staffing levels and developing training, but implementing necessary accountability measures to improve investigations. Improving the clearance rate involves collaboration with the community and other local, state, and federal partners which the Baltimore Police Department is committed to continue doing and expanding on,” the department said in a statement to WJZ. “Overall, BPD recognizes the need for continuous improvement and is up for the challenge of changing this narrative. Our department embraces reforms because the residents of our city deserve a world-class police force that inspires trust, ensures safety and protects the constitutional rights of the people we serve. Rebuilding trust is critical to a safer Baltimore.”
The City Council has voted to take $22 million from the police budget and redirect it to public services.
“This round of cuts that came with these hearings have demonstrated the will of the people,” Commissioner Michael Harrison said Tuesday. “We are really kind of a basic functioning police department. There are impacts. Some of them could be negative.”