BALTIMORE, Md. — An audit of the Baltimore Police Department finds 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 its efforts on track, officers will move to a new staffing shift starting this weekend.
"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, and it’s three shifts as opposed to what we’re working now, the ten hour," said Deputy Commissioner Andre Bonaparte.
The hope is a better work schedule will not only help maintain the goal of proactive policing, but will help keep officers around longer. Yet City Auditor Audrey Askew finds 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, the department met 75 percent of its goal for 2017 and only half of its goal for 2016.
"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," Jim Gillis, Baltimore Police Department.
Another goal for new recruits, is to have more Baltimore city residents on the force, yet 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," said Askew.
But for those who've made it to the BPD, the audit shows more than 60 fewer officers out on patrol from 2016 to 2017. Complicating matters further on how many officers are doing patrols, more than 150 were actually out on leave and not even available to patrol.
Meanwhile, the department reports a four fold increase in applications in 2018. Since the taking the testing for new officer online, allowing anyone anywhere in the country to apply 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.