|FOP says agency in need of total overhaul|
|Written by Mark Nichols|
The Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) says the whole agency needs an overhaul, describing the agency’s management strategy as “outdated, ineffective and reactive.” The F.O.P. says they have a better plan that, if enacted, will bring changes that would boost officer morale and reduce crime across the city.
The union issued their report at the same time the city is seeking a replacement for Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.
Bob Cherry, the F.O.P. president, said the union wants the report to serve as a blueprint for improvements by the department’s next management team. Cherry says the city’s focus on violent crime, one of Bealefeld’s signature approaches, can come at the expense of other types of crime that impact far more residents, such as burglaries.
The union is recommending that more officers be put back on patrol. Patrol officers “have the opportunity to build relationships in the community, conduct ongoing investigations, and employ more strategic policing overall,” the report said.
“This is where true reduction in crime will come from.”
Cherry says changes are needed quickly to deal with a “crisis of morale” as well as to curb problems with corruption. Spokespersons for the department and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake expressed appreciation and said the union suggestions would be reviewed.
However, some city officials have been critical of the police union’s suggestions. “We have a recipe for crime declines in Baltimore that’s proven,” said department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. “We’re in the process already of establishing nationally recognized law enforcement standards, and we’ve been committed to improving our professional integrity. These things don’t happen overnight.”
Retention and hiring are also areas that need attention, according to the FOP report. Citing training surveys, the report said: “Not one city officer said he or she would recommend joining the Baltimore Police Department to potential applicants.”
Years ago, the report goes on to say, “many officers took pride in being a police officer in one of the most challenging policing environments in America. This is simply not the reality anymore.” The F.O.P. report also says that establishing a uniform color for all ranks is a good idea.
The union would also like changes made to the weekly data-sharing Compstat meetings, to shift the focus toward “problem-solving,” and away from statistics.