Baltimore police are under the microscope to implement wide-reaching reforms required under their new consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department, but they’ll need a hefty infusion of cash to make those changes happen.
Mayor Catherine Pugh’s administration and outside groups are aware of this, and the offers of help are starting to trickle in. One of the first reported monetary pledges came last week from the Ford Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting human welfare. WBAL-TV first reported on the day of the consent decree announcement that the group had pledged $1 million to assist police.
Pugh’s spokesman, Anthony McCarthy, said today that he couldn’t confirm the amount, but added that the mayor’s office is “in initial talks” with the nonprofit. “They have reached out to the mayor,” he said, “and they have said they are excited to be involved in any opportunity to reform our police department.”
Earlier this month, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Mayor Pugh also highlighted the need for additional patrol officers in neighborhoods. That issue made its way into the 227-page consent decree‘s requirements in the “Staffing, Performance Evaluations, and Promotions” section, which calls for a staffing plan that puts a “sufficient number of officers in patrol in each district.”
Today, the Sun reports Mayor Pugh has promised an additional $3 million to hire more patrol officers for the department. On a phone call, McCarthy described the move by Pugh as a “budgetary decision.”
Still, questions remain about where that money may come from and whether it will be enough. Councilman Brandon Scott noted to the paper that past budget changes, such as a hiring freeze in the 2016 budget, associated much higher costs per officer than the proportion of $3 million for 100 new officers would suggest.
In an emailed statement, Baltimore Police Department chief spokesman TJ Smith said, “We are happy that Mayor Pugh is requesting that 100 additional officer positions be made available in this year’s budget. We are continuing our efforts to recruit qualified men and women to become members of the Baltimore Police Department.”
Smith pointed out that department presently has 2,625 authorized staffing positions, with 125 of them remaining open as of today. With the 100 additional officers called for by Mayor Pugh with her $3 million budget promise, the department will have the ability to hire 225 new officers in total, Smith said.
Officials haven’t pegged down exactly how much the consent decree reforms will cost, though WBAL-TV said City Hall estimated it would be somewhere between $9 million and $30 million. That doesn’t include the costs of a staffing overhaul that would raise the number of patrol officers, as promised by Mayor Pugh and Commissioner Davis.
McCarthy said Pugh’s administration hasn’t estimated the full costs of the consent decree. “We will have a better idea once we have our first meeting with the federal judge and the courts,” he said.
This story has been updated.
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