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'It’s totally unacceptable': City council grills Baltimore police leadership over violent crime during annual budget hearing

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Posted at 10:14 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 23:13:36-04

BALTIMORE — A tense budget hearing was held Tuesday in Baltimore as City Council members grilled leadership at the police department about what it’s doing to address crime.

“I’m absolutely disgusted with the state of public safety in this city,” said councilman Eric Costello.

The frustrations from council members were heard loud and clear during an annual budget hearing.

“It’s totally unacceptable,” said councilman Antonio Glover. “This three-year, four-year [and] five-year plan is not the plan I want to see. I need the people’s plan. And what the people are saying to me [is[…we need things done immediately.

Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said there is a perception his officers lack the same sense of urgency as the community to address crime, but he said that is far from the truth.

“Please do not ever confuse our lack of panic with the belief we somehow lack the sense of urgency,” Harrison said.

The police department recently laid out its short-term crime plan in a letter to city council which included more police patrols and more over time for officers.

But during the hearing, some members of city council weren’t satisfied with how the commissioner answered several questions.

Seven shot - two killed - in shootings two miles and 45 minutes apart in Northeast Baltimore

“What is the plan for open air drug markets?" councilman Robert Stokes asked.

Commissioner Harrison replied, “we are constantly going after drug dealers.”

“This year alone, we have made 460 felony arrest, 14 misdemeanor drug arrest [and] we made 629 drug arrests," Harrison said.

Stokes responded to Harrison, saying, “You just gave me statistics. I asked for a plan about open air drug markets. The people in the community want to know what is the plan.”

Another question aimed at the commissioner was about the department’s partnership with state and federal agencies to further its efforts to curb crime.

The commissioner said it’s state and federal partners have given them support but councilman Costello demanded the commissioner to ask for more resources

“I don’t believe that we have enough police officers, sheriffs, city school police officers, DEA agents and the whole," Costello said.

“I agree with you that we need more and that we are not satisfied,” Harrison said.

Harrison added he will ask the state and federal agencies for more resources.

Councilman Costello said he wants the request in writing, and he even threatened to not move the city’s budget forward until the city council gets it.