BALTIMORE — Paying for police and all of the issues that come along with fixing the broken system that is the police department. The Baltimore City Police Department budget took center stage at City Hall Friday night.
Commissioner Michael Harrison was candid about the enormous task ahead to turn the department around.
“The first step to our recovery is first admitting that you have a problem,” Harrison said.
The four-hour long meeting came less than 24 hours after Harrison held a late night press conference about the arrest of Sgt. Ethan Newberg. It’s the first thing Commissioner Harrison talked about.
Many of the council members were shocked to hear how much Newberg was making in overtime — more than $100,000. Newberg, a 24-year veteran, was arrested, charged, and suspended without pay for allegedly illegally arresting a man.
Harrison says there were little to no checks and balances in the past, something he said he will remedy by putting in comprehensive tracking of where officers are when they are working overtime, and what supervisors approved it, and putting a limit on how many hours an officer can work per week.
“What we were finding is officers would work overtime in a shift that’s not their own assignment ,and but there were no permissions asked or granted, and we were finding out about it at the end of the next two-week cycle,” Harrison said.
The President of the Baltimore City Police Union, Mike Mancuso, was critical of the commissioner in a statement released Friday, in which he said Harrison “would not condemn those who robbed and assaulted innocent citizens at the Inner Harbor” and continued on by saying “how then, can this be the same man who said that he reviewed Sgt. Newberg’s body worn camera video and made the decision, himself, to have the Sgt. criminally charged?”
Mancuso closed out his remarks by accusing Harrison of not being consistent and warning officers to keep his decisions in mind as they go about their day to day jobs.
When asked by WMAR-2 News about comments made by the union head, Harrison replied; “I think the people of Baltimore are smart enough to see what that really is and smell through it."
Harrison said he will have a comprehensive crime reduction plan ready by August 1.