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Baltimore Police union criticizes commissioner's crime plan, reality of crime in city

Posted at 11:01 AM, Jul 30, 2019

BALTIMORE — The president of the union that represents Baltimore police officers pushed back against Commissioner Michael Harrison’s newly announced crime plan, decrying a lack of officers and Harrison's assessment of the city's crime issues.

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“The current deployment of Patrol Officers will not be able to, under any circumstances, implement the new crime plan as intended,” said Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 President Mike Mancuso in a statement released on Twitter. “As it stands now, there are not enough Officers to even respond to the number of calls to 911, not to mention the addition of micro-zones, community engagement, and proactive policing. The plan, as presented, is untenable.”

Mancuso listed a variety of financial priorities, including fixing aging structures, updating cars and equipment, and recruiting and paying for 500 more officers, which Mancuso says are needed to achieve enough staffing for the department’s Patrol Division. While Harrison’s crime plan did not detail exact revenue needs and where those funds would come from, the state and city were offering $14 million in funding to the department as long as the plan was submitted for approval by Aug. 1.

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Mancuso also took issue with how he believes Harrison described the city and its problems. The statement implies Harrison made a reductive assessment of the city’s crime, peddling the familiar narrative that most of its victims and perpetrators know each other, and thus while the rate of crime is high, focusing on the wrongdoers will provide outsized suppression as city residents should not worry as much about being victimized.

“For [Harrison] to try to alleviate the public’s fear of being a victim of violent crime by stating that most suspects and victims know each other, is outright fantasy,” Mancuso’s letter says. “ … That, however, is not the current reality and I cannot even begin to predict, at this point, when it ever will be again. But I can assure you that I will be frank and honest with you because the lawlessness in Baltimore must stop. The blood of many of my Brothers and Sisters, in FOP #3, has been left on these streets and the current state of the City makes us all sick.”

Mancuso finished the letter giving a modest nod to Harrison’s ambitions, saying his intentions are noble and his success in New Orleans is commendable and made him an appealing leader for Baltimore, but that “implementing a Federal Consent Decree in New Orleans does not translate to solving our deep-rooted crime problem in Baltimore,” Mancuso said.

While the letter offered ample criticisms, Mancuso and the FOP’s public correspondence and statements about Baltimore’s myriad issues related to crime have yet to include suggestions about possible tactics or solutions that would either strengthen the department or reduce crime. Routinely the union has complained about a lack of officers on the street, demanding or implying an increase in hiring. They have not, however, acknowledged the department's dominance of the city's current budget and where funds might be moved or discovered to grow that allocation.