BALTIMORE, Md. — A performance review of the Baltimore Police Department released Wednesday, found the department only met one of its goals for fiscal year 2017.
The audit of the BPD found the amount of time an officer spends on proactive policing versus responding to calls is the only goal the department met in 2017. To keep it's efforts on track, officers will move to a new staffing shift starting this weekend
Baltimore Police Department deputy commissioner Andre Bonaparte said "it essentially is three, eight-hour shifts. So, the officers will be working five on, and then they’ll have two days off, and then they’ll have five on and then three days off. It’s three shifts as opposed to what we’re working now, the ten hour shifts."
The hope is a better work schedule will not only help maintain the goal of proactive policing but help keep officers around longer. Yet City Auditor Audrey Askew found one of several areas the BPD falls short is in recruiting new officers. The goal was 200 new recruits hired per year in 2016 and 2017; however, with 153 new hires, the department met 75 percent of its goal in 2017, and only half of its goal for 2016 with 99 new hires.
Chief of Staff for interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle, Jim Gillis said "there are issues that we’ve identified at the agency, for example, folks not doing as well as they need to in the physical agility test. So, we have implemented a program to help people successfully pass that, and it has doubled the number of folks who have gotten through that part of the application process."
Another goal for new recruits is to have more Baltimore City residents on the force, et about 90 percent of those who apply are rejected.
"According to BPD, some reasons applicants were rejected include integrity, needed expungement, failed polygraph, drug use, criminal history, poor driving record, tax fraud, and other various reasons that were not compliant with BPD requirements," Askew said.
For those who've made it to the BPD, the audit showed more than 60 fewer officers out on patrol from 2016 to 2017. A decrease from 960 to 897 patrol officers. Complicating matters further on how many officers are doing patrols, more than 150 were actually out on leave and not even available to patrol.
Baltimore City Council President Jack Young said "they can’t be on medical for four and five years. As a matter of fact, they can only be on medical for 90 days. Then, they have to either find another job, or they have to come back to work. This practice of staying on medical for years has to stop."
"Yes sir, and we recognize that," Bonaparte said.
Meanwhile, the department reports a four-fold increase in applications in 2018 since the taking the testing for new officers online, allowing anyone anywhere in the country to apply. However, with the desire to have more Baltimoreans successfuly apply, the BPD plans to do more outreach to local high school students to encourage them to join the force.