Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, center, unveils two new crime-reduction plans. Image via Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s Twitter page.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, center, unveils two new crime-reduction plans. Image via Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s Twitter page.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison today rolled out two plans for driving down crime and transforming the Baltimore Police Department, promising new metrics for officers, such as 10-minute response times, and to use data to deploy officers in focused patrol areas where crimes are statistically more likely to happen.

The new framework also centers around prevention and offering proper rehabilitation for returning citizens. While coordinating with programs like Safe Streets and Roca to intervene before a crime is committed, the department will also work with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice on a pipeline for ex-offenders “to gain access to stable educational and economic opportunities” through workforce training and other initiatives.

Flanked by Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, City Council President Brandon Scott, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, U.S. Attorney for Maryland Robert K. Hur and a number of city council members and delegates, Harrison said at a press conference today the two plans go together.

“Because when the department operates more efficiently and more effectively, we will better be able to reduce, deter and prevent crime,” he said.

BPD analyzed data on gun-related violent crimes over the last five years to draw up the zones, and found the micro-targeted areas represent one-third of all such incidents since 2015.

The department also looked at the times and days of the week when these incidents occurred to decide when to deploy officers to zones. Incoming crime data will evolve and influence the way officers are deployed, Harrison said.

But he also noted there will be more community-oriented practices in these zones, with additional police patrolling on foot and attending community meetings.

The commissioner said he will meet weekly with Mosby to discuss homicide, shooting and armed robbery cases “to enhance the quality of cases that the BPD builds” for the State’s Attorney’s Office to prosecute.

Officers will now have more accountability metrics and performance goals under a revamped COMSTAT system, offering statistics on use of force, citizen complaints, crime trends, clearance rates and other data. Harrison is setting the benchmark of 10 minutes for response times to calls.

To make better use of the department’s human capital, certain positions that have officers on staff, such as crime scene technicians, academy instructors and public relations, will put those cops back on the street, the plan says.

In his remarks, Young elaborated on adopting preventative measures, labeling trauma and historic disinvestment as primary causes of violent crime. He said the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and police will work with communities to “understand what is needed to reach those who wish to turn their lives around.”

Both agencies will partner create programs focusing on cognitive behavioral therapy and transitional employment, he said.

Other officials hailed the plan as needed and long overdue.

Noting that she’s worked with five different commissioners over the last three years and three different mayoral administrations, Mosby said she’s “incredibly encouraged” by Harrison’s plan, which she said takes a holistic approach.

“And when you look at our city, it is incredibly important to take a holistic approach and understand that it can’t just be an enforcement perspective,” she said.

City Council President Brandon Scott, who joined with Councilman Eric Costello last month to request a comprehensive plan, said he finally got his wish–something he’s asked for since he started as chairman of the Public Safety Committee in 2017.

“We were never presented with something that we can take out to the citizens, that the citizens of Baltimore can see, that we can believe in, that we can hold BPD accountable for,” he said. “So we are grateful to Commissioner Harrison, and for the mayor for pushing him to do that.”

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore...