BPD gets back to basics

Posted at 11:36 PM, Mar 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 23:36:46-05

You can argue how it got that way or how to fix it, but the explosive reaction of last April made it abundantly clear...there is a gap between police and community in parts of Baltimore.

It is a gap the police department is now trying to close one step at a time.

It is not just a philosophy developed by Major Marc Partee, it is part of a curriculum on the art of walking a foot patrol the leader of the police academy developed late last year.

See also: BPD goes back to basics to reach the community

This is only the third time he is teaching it as part of in-service training, there is a 40  hour version for new recruits, but it isn't just reading about how to walk a foot patrol, it requires actually walking a beat...being an old fashioned Baltimore footman.

"Actually walking is making it real. The academic portion where we talk about the history and then we talk about warrior versus guardian and then we move into the communication portion...that is all on the screen and is pretty but once we start walking and then we start connecting with people, then they see ohhh...that what we need to do again," said Major Partee.

This officer friendly re-boot is the idea of Commissioner Kevin Davis.

Community policing in Baltimore looks more like a beat cop interacting with people who are not suspects or witnesses.

It is getting back to basics; connecting with people.

"These new police officers, they get trained in such a paramilitary environment,” Commissioner Davis said, “We have to train all the officer safety, we train firearms, use of force, we have to train criminal law. All those very traditional things are necessary and we still do those things, but there is another side to policing and it is a side that really mandates that we get better with our communication skills with our community."

While there have been studies in police departments in cities like Philadelphia and Newark, what you are seeing here in Baltimore may be the first curriculum in how to walk a foot post.

While a simple concept, it is one Major Partee says literally and figuratively puts one foot in front of the other in order to repair relationships and ultimately bring down crime.

"What we are teaching is the components that make a successful interaction. It is not just the walking, it is the interaction…I saw it work when I was a kid and that is what it is about and I have done it. When I was a district commander in the Northwest District I walked around, I talked to people and when you do're breaking down barriers."

Every current Baltimore city officer will receive this training during their in-service training

New recruits will get a 40 hour version of this course in the academy.

This curriculum is also paired with a cultural sensitivity lecture, a speaker series where officers are exposed to the history of the city they serve.

That part of this community policing curriculum started last week.