Awaiting An Overdue Reform

Erin Slaughter, Student Writer

With the recent increase of the public display of police brutality, police reform has proven to be the only way forward.

However, the city of Baltimore is reporting that a staffing issue is hindering them for being able to adequately adhere to the new guidelines and the new federal consent decree.

This new federal decree requires officers to spend 15 to 20 minutes each hour engaged with the community

Officials report the Baltimore police department falls short by 489 officers.

Commissioner Michael Harrison told WJZ that they have begun offering many incentives for people to join the police department.

The Baltimore police department is starting to pay the highest salary in Maryland in hopes to grab the attention of new recruits. So far, the incentives have not sparked the interest of many new recruits.

Money however, may not be the only issue that is hindering the progress.

“We can make sure we have good recruitment incentives, good retention incentives, and we have those.…What we have to do is also make sure we have good working conditions,” Harrison said.

The federal judge overseeing the police reform says the officers barely have time for the things they are tasked for now and that the understaffing will lead to more mistakes by officers.

It is reported in the last quarter alone, the Baltimore Police Department lost 51 officers while hiring 23 officers.

The judge calls the shortages at the Baltimore police department “A national crisis”

Everyone involved agrees that hiring more police officers will aid in a better and swifter police reform.

This would allow police officers to be evenly spread out and stop the amount of overtime being used by the department.

The department reports they have managed to cover down on the shortage by using overtime as a temporary fix.

They do not see the overtime as a long-term solution and many feel that officers will begin to get burnt out by the workload that has been put on them.

Relationships with the community may be threatened tremendously as well with the shortage.

Although the department is unstaffed, the commissioner still feels that the Baltimore police department is on the right road to police reform.

When asked about the progress, he is quoted saying “You are seeing the Baltimore Police Department demonstrate to the world and to all of you that we can reform and fight crime and deal with crime and reduce crime at the same time.”

The hope is that in the near future, new recruits come forward and that the Baltimore police department can lead the way in police reform for Maryland.