In a well-timed disbursement of state funding, Baltimore police are set to receive $12 million in grants from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention for violence-prevention programs, more community-focused police jobs and updates to the department’s record-keeping technology.
The bulk of that money, $7.2 million, comes from a block grant budgeted for three city programs: BPD’s Neighborhood Foot Patrol Program, the Violent Crime Reduction Program and the Neighborhood Policing Program. Altogether, the money will help pay for salaries and benefits for 75 more officers tasked mainly with community-level policing, more resources for investigating violent crime and expanded citizen-run neighborhood block watch and patrol programs.
Another $3 million will go to the new Violence Intervention and Prevention Program, which supports evidence-based (read: proven via research) or -informed (based on principles, and can be researched) public health programs to reduce gun violence. Del. Brooke Lierman (D-46th District) sponsored the bill that became the law creating VIPP last legislative session.
And $2 million more will go toward a new digital records-management system to help police shed their reliance on manual incident reporting and move into the 21st century of data entry. A release from the governor’s office says the new system will “convert paper reports to electronic, and develop new data entry forms which will offer better data integration, transparency, and the ability to collaborate with federal, state, and local partners.”
The $2 million grant matches the sum the governor’s office gave to BPD last year to outfit squad cars with computers.
BPD has not responded to a request for details on what that new records-management system will be, or how many of its cars have been equipped with computers.
A spokesman for Mayor Catherine Pugh, who’s worked with Acting Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle this year on strategies to put more officers on patrol, has also not returned a request for comment on forthcoming state grants.
For purposes of scale, BPD’s fiscal 2019 budget is $519 million–96 percent of which is coming from city funds–and that doesn’t include the near certainty of overtime overages for the understaffed department.
After watching violent crimes, including shootings and homicides, decline for the better part of this year, the city has dealt with a recent rash of bloodshed, with 43 people killed in Baltimore in the last 30 days, including three just yesterday.
The $12 million coming from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention was already budgeted, and not in response to the recent crime wave.
“It’s all very timely,” said agency spokeswoman Walinda West.