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Baltimore Police Commissioner addresses spike in crime, surveillance plane

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Posted at 5:26 PM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 23:30:37-04

BALTIMORE — "There is no quick fix. It is about process improvement and people improvement," said Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison.

It's the answer people may not want to hear after an extremely violent weekend in Baltimore. 17 people shot and 4 killed in two days. One of the victims is a 2-year-old, who was shot in the stomach and is expected to survive.

Wednesday, during the first time Harrison took questions from the media since Saturday, he said focusing on culture and processes is the key to reducing crime.

"Not only are we working to deal with violent crime and bad actors who are committing crime, now we are transforming an entire police department at the very same time. Changing all of our policies, all of our practices, unlearning bad practices relearning and reteaching new and best practices," said Harrison. "Improving morale by improving working conditions which translates to better performance which translates to crime reduction. It's about bringing the latest and best technology that we so desperately need."

Technology like the highly controversial surveillance plane. After renewed calls to put it up in the air to help police catch killed, Harrison challenged the aerial surveillance system's effectiveness.

"I was hired because I was an evidence-based police chief so I'm in support of evidence-based solutions. That has never been tried in an American city. It is an experiment," said Harrison.

What he does know is that changing the idea that there are no consequences will deter violent crime so he's put a focus on building strong cases and good relationships with prosecutors.

"If violent crime is the life you choose, we will be sure that prison is the price you pay," Harrison said.

273 people have been murdered in Baltimore this year, an 11% increase compared to last year. There have also been 639 non-fatal shootings, over 100 more than this time last year.