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BPD looks to free up busy officers by letting others handle less urgent 911 calls

Posted at 1:42 PM, May 18, 2022

BALTIMORE — Baltimore Police on Wednesday launched a new deployment strategy that aims to improve efficiency and free up limited resources.

It's being coined SMART Policing which stands for Strategic Management & Alternative Response Tactics.

One aspect is a topic discussed extensively in the past, which is sending social workers instead of officers to certain behavioral health crisis calls.

SEE ALSO: Baltimore City 911 system to begin diverting some behavioral health calls away from police

That alone, the department says could free up some patrol officers allowing them to respond to other emergencies.

Police leadership is also looking into contracting third-party vendors to handle minor traffic accidents that don't involve injury or DUI.

A pilot program for that is expected to launch in the summer.

Another part of the plan is to expand the role of the department's Telephone Reporting Unit. Staff assigned to that unit already take care of various calls for lost property or theft, without having to physically send an officer out to the caller's location.

Finally, the department wants to revise policies on alarms. Frequently, calls for business and residential alarms turn out to be false alarms.

The department wants to propose a new City ordinance that would discontinue police responses to locations that have recorded five false alarms in a calendar year.

It's a way of holding vendors accountable to ensure that calls for burglar alarms are only for actual emergencies.

MORE: Baltimore Police adding new civilian positions to the department

This newest initiative comes a month after the department announced their intention to hire civilians to investigate low-level property crimes, cold cases, background checks, intelligence gathering and internal affair matters.

"These strategies not only help us to bring police services faster and more efficiently to residents, but it will also make our officers more available for proactive patrols and community engagement, which will help us increase visibility,” said Commissioner Michael S. Harrison.