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credit: npr.org

As I’ve previously reported, the failed prosecutions of Baltimore Police Officers in the accidental death of Freddie Gray have caused both immediate and long-term problems for the Baltimore Police Department, and for Baltimore. Such consequences were easily predictable, and as they have worsened, the Mayor, and other local and state politicians have thrown Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby under the bus, and pointed fingers at each other, not that any of them have done anything to address the inevitable problems inherent in decades of Democrat rule. Among the serious problems are a skyrocketing crime rate, largely due to the Ferguson Effect, worsened by the looming Federal takeover of the BPD. Criminals know the police will do little or nothing to stop them, and they are taking full advantage of it. Huge budget shortfalls in the schools, the police department, and every area of government also bedevil Baltimore.

I’ve previously reported that every officer that can has left, or is leaving, the BPD, and unsurprisingly, the BPD is having enormous trouble recruiting. There are, apparently, many applicants, but not remotely the kinds of people any rational police commander would want carrying badges and guns. The fundamental mistrust between line officers and administrators, and between the police and the prosecutor’s office and city leadership has not in the least lessened.

Let us, gentle readers, review the dissolution of the BPD and Baltimore, beginning with the local CBS station:

There’s growing concern over a shortage of police officers in Baltimore City. Despite ramping up recruiting efforts, there’s still big turnover in the department.

For only the second time in the last two decades, Baltimore hits 100 homicides before the end of April.

The murder rate is up 30 percent over last year — a grim milestone. The murder that pushed the city over the 100-mark happened on Lombard Street, one of the busiest intersections downtown.

The number of officers is at its lowest point that it’s Kevin Davisbeen in the past decade, which has become cause for concern.

The city is operating with hundreds of fewer officers than at any point over the past decade. With violent crime and overtime on the rise, some are raising alarm about public safety.

Gee, why would that be a concern for anyone? Just how bad are things?

Throughout the 2000s, Baltimore never had fewer than 2,900 officers — that number is roughly 2,500 today.

And when you take into account officers on leave, that number drops by 300 more. The department is spending almost $1 million dollars a month just on overtime to keep up.

We might consider that since the city is willing to admit these terrible numbers, things are likely substantially worse.

In January, the police union president called staffing levels dangerous.

‘You get in a crisis mode like we’re in right now with crime out of control and not enough uniformed officers on the street, I would say it’s at a crisis point,’ says FOP President Lt. Gene Ryan.

‘I find that offensive. I know that several of my commanders who find that offensive,’ says Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

Oh, I’m sure Commissioner Davis finds that offensive. The truth is always offensive for progressive politicians when their lies and incompetence are exposed.

Another facet of the problem is police overtime. While officers like overtime for the substantial boost it provides to their salaries, it causes inevitable problems–many of them serious–not only for the officers, but for the Police Department and the community, as the Baltimore Sun reports:

Two years ago, Baltimore officials said they had come up with a new police deployment plan that would curb the use of overtime while increasing the number of officers on the streets.

Instead, overtime spending has continued to soar — to double what it was in 2013 and the agency is now spending nearly $1 million a week to supplement regular staffing.

The Police Department is on pace to exceed its $17 million overtime budget by nearly $30 million — a troubling figure for a city struggling to invest in beleaguered neighborhoods while also complying with a consent decree that mandates better policing.

Officials say the rising costs go hand-in-hand with staffing shortages amid a sharp rise in crime. City Hall has cut the number of sworn police officers by one-sixth over the past two years, but the Police Department still hasn’t been able to hire officers fast enough to keep pace with attrition.

That’s right: the city is cutting the number of police officers, even knowing it can’t possibly replace them. This is perhaps the fundamental reason the overtime budget is out of control.

We are in a quandary,’ Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in an interview.

The recent indictment of seven officers has exposed another problem: the ease with which fraudulent overtime pay could be obtained. One sergeant is accused of falsely claiming to have worked when he was really at the beach.

The new deployment plan that began in January 2015 under former Commissioner Anthony Batts called for a significant departure from a schedule of standard 8-hour shifts. Instead officers were assigned to work four 10-hour shifts per week, followed by three days off.

City officials agreed to move to the new scheduling even though they knew from studying the idea that it would require a full complement of officers — likely even more than they had at the time.

‘One of our biggest concerns was what would happen if they didn’t staff it properly,’ said Gene Ryan, president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police union.

But in the same pact with the union that authorized the new schedule, the city cut more than 200 positions from the police budget in order to pay for a 13 percent salary increase for officers.

Baltimore’s previous Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Among the certainties of large city policing is the power of police unions, and the corruption of Democrat politicians. While Batt’s scheduling idea is not unheard of in police work, as Ryan noted, one doesn’t implement it knowing it is financially unsustainable. How anyone could possibly think cutting 200 officers could be anything but disastrous, indicates the depth of Democrat corruption and the tendency of Democrats to live not in reality, but in what they would like reality to be.

Then, violence soared following the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015 from injuries suffered in police custody. The department saw officers leave, and it struggled to fill their positions. Another 225 positions were frozen by the city as officials sought to balance the budget. The agency also reduced the patrol ranks to staff specialized units.

While the agency for years overspent its overtime budget, it hadn’t spent more than $30 million on overtime. It has exceeded that figure each of the past three years. Police overtime spending is on pace to reach $46 million by the end of the fiscal year June 30.

The Police Department’s total budget of $480 million represents nearly a fifth of the city’s overall $2.6 billion operating budget.

Overtime is a fiscal time bomb. Normal overtime, occasioned by the realities of police work such as officers out due to illness, training, court appearances, vacation, special events and duties, etc. is normally not a problem. In properly staffed agencies, it is predictable and varies relatively little from year to year. Officers tend to love and covet it because it can significantly supplement their salaries. They volunteer for it. Commonly, no one is forced work overtime, however, there are consequences.

Officers taking OT are not excused from their regular shifts, so they end up working double—and more—shifts, which causes them to lose sleep, become run down, and more prone to absence due to illness. It also causes officers in a high-stress profession to become even more stressed, which leads to more mistakes—including deadly mistakes–intemperate treatment of the public, and more lawsuits. The families of officers suffer, and relations within the agency suffer. When staffing is not maintained at proper levels, OT is not a blessing but a curse. Officers are forced to work overtime—virtually all of them–and all the aforementioned problems are greatly magnified, to the detriment of everyone.

Even so, with the city school budget facing a huge deficit, City Council members are pledging to cut the Police Department budget by $10 million for the coming year. Ryan Dorsey, a freshman councilman who is vice chair of the public safety committee, thinks the police budget could be cut even more if the department made simple investments in technology — such as computers in police cars — that could increase efficiency.

‘It’s not policing that brings about a peaceful city in which people enjoy living,’ said Dorsey, who represents Northeast Baltimore. ‘We would be better off investing in resources for individuals and communities that are not police-based resources.

And here, gentle readers, we see another facet of the problem: clueless politicians. Computers can, if used properly, slightly increase communications efficiency and make officer’s jobs somewhat easier, but they do not, for a moment, provide the boots on the streets that deter and investigate crime.

During my police days, a high-ranking administrator came up with a brilliant idea: officers would be given personal laptop computers. Greater efficiency, right? What he had long forgotten was the realities of patrol work. He thought every officer would carry them whenever they left their patrol car and use them to write reports, take information from witnesses, etc. In reality, they would be an impossible burden. Where could an officer put one to allow typing? Officers don’t carry typing desks in their back pockets. They need to keep their hands free, which is why most carry small notebooks in their pockets. If they suddenly needed to restrain someone, chase someone, defend themselves, their computers would end up on the ground and stomped into atoms. In addition, tying up both hands with one’s head down in a laptop screen would destroy officer’s situational awareness. I was finally able to convince the agency that was an efficiency we didn’t need.

Dorsey, of course, thinks throwing money into progressive policies, the same policies that have brought Baltimore to this perilous state, will make everyone live in peace. And of course, the money will be taken from the police budget to redistribute to his cronies.

According to data provided by the Police Department, the agency is at its lowest number of officers in decades. From 2000 to 2012, the agency never had fewer than 2,953 sworn officers, and peaked at 3,278 in 2002. But since 2012, the number has fallen by more than 500 officers, to 2,506 sworn staff.

That may be surprising to critics of the agency who have pointed to its growing budget, which has risen by $130 million since 2011. But city officials say that has largely been driven by increased pension, salary and overtime costs. Ninety percent of the police budget is tied to personnel costs. [skip]

The department also remains one of the highest-staffed in the country, in terms of the city’s population, though it is also grappling with one of the highest violent crime rates and 550,000 calls for service annually. With officers on medical leave, light duty and suspensions, the available number of officers falls to fewer than 2,200.

We see by the city’s numbers, the BPD is down nearly 1100 officers from its peak. One must remember that in any police agency, a patrol force—that’s the men and women in blue that actually interact with the public every day—must be the largest component. However, that’s not always true in large cities, which tend to pad their payrolls with huge numbers of highly paid administrators, and a variety of people working politically charged programs that contribute nothing to actual policing, absolutely beholden to Democrat politicians. Again, if they’re willing to admit the horrors of those numbers, one can reasonably believe they’re actually much worse, as Baltimore’s crime statistics would indicate.

As one might expect, the article contains other examples that clearly illustrate why Baltimore, a progressive bastion, is in such trouble. Some politicians say everything is OK, for example, because they have the money for overtime because they’re not filling hundreds of police positions! That’s rather like saying one’s parachute canopy has collapsed, but they’re making really good time on their way to augering in.

In 2011, I wrote an article for PJ Media about the federal government forcing Dayton, Ohio to drastically lower its police hiring standards to ensure “proper” racial balance. According to The Baltimore Sun, this common progressive tactic is also being forced on the BPD:

Legislators in Maryland have eased restrictions on the amount of marijuana prospective police officers may have smoked before being hired in the state — a move Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis championed to boost his department’s hiring efforts.

The new rule, which received final approval from the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission on Wednesday, bars the hiring of any prospective officers who have smoked marijuana in the past three years. It replaces a state policy dating to the 1970s that had disqualified police applicants who had used marijuana more than 20 times in their lives, or five times since turning 21 years old. [skip]

‘It’s a long time coming,’ said Davis, who is vice chairman of the state commission. ‘It gives us a greater pool of police applicants to consider as we are at a very critical time in our profession’s history and we want to identify the right people.’

The department is still trying to recover from a surge in departures after the unrest of 2015. Davis said past marijuana use has been the ‘No. 1 disqualifier’ of new applicants.”

Already in 2017, he said, 30 applicants have been denied employment solely because they ran afoul of the state policy.

credit: hngh.com

So the Baltimore Police Commissioner sees habitual pot smokers as a new, valuable source of high-quality police officers. Like, wow man; trippin’!

Davis said disqualifications based on past pot use have been particularly prevalent among applicants from Baltimore — a population from which the department is trying to recruit as it looks to repair its relationship with the local community as part of a broad reform effort.

Gee, I wonder why? Wouldn’t local pot heads be ideal police candidates, particularly if they were the right color?

He said it was ‘a big piece to the puzzle’ to improving recruitment. He said the effort has also been helped by holding more recruiting events and easing other restrictions — such as one that bars officers from showing tattoos on their arms.

‘I would never want someone who would want to consider police work as a career to be discouraged from our profession because of tattoos on her arm or marijuana use in his past,’ Davis said. ‘I just want to be able to consider everyone who is willing to throw his hat in the ring, and pick the best ones.

One may argue that pot smokers—pot, by the way is now essentially legal in Maryland—are no different than anyone else, but my personal experience surely does not support that assessment. Police work requires men and women of the highest personal integrity and reliability (it’s a goal, sadly not always achieved). Any reliance on drugs, particularly illegal, psychoactive drugs, should and must be a disqualifier.

I participated in hiring cycles during my police years. The public would be amazed to learn that of those taking an initial test, at least 50% fail miserably. Of the remaining 50%, about half are bottom of the barrel candidates, about 5% are exceptional, perhaps 10% fair to good, and the remainder, something less. These initial tests are nothing more than basic common sense and knowledge assessments. Anyone scoring less than 80% on such an instrument is not nearly sharp enough to wield deadly force on behalf of the public.

Keep in mind too, as I wrote in 2014, contemporary police agencies are increasingly working to hire officers only just smart enough, working on the theory that really smart officers will become bored and quit. No doubt, Baltimore is working under this theory, as well as more or less requiring some level of illicit drug use.

Passing such a test only puts one on an eligibility list for further testing, including physical tests, psychological tests, background checks and personal interviews. Anyone eventually hired will begin an odyssey of training, and will not be able to work alone as a patrol officer for, on average, a year. Therefore, recruitment and hiring must be a long-term matter. One doesn’t decide to hire officers Monday and find them on the street in uniform in a week, a month, or even a year.

Horrifying too is the quality of those that apply for entry-level police jobs. Many have no idea of personal hygiene. One can tell what many had for lunch merely by examining their clothing. Some sport enough tattoos—including on their faces–to star as Hispanic gang bangers in a made for TV movie, and some wear enough piercings to set off airport metal detectors from the parking lot. Others wear the kind of “relaxed” hairstyles one sees in professional football and baseball (It’s a serious tactical danger).

Of course, if Baltimore is “relaxing” drug use standards, they may well be relaxing the standards and measures I’ve mentioned as well. It is these people the City of Baltimore, in its progressive wisdom, seeks as police officers.

Finally, this will come as no surprise to regular readers. Some in Baltimore and Maryland are blaming their collective and self-inflicted woes on—wait for it—Donald Trump. The Baltimore Sun posted a contrary editorial:

Blaming President Donald Trump or the U.S. Department of Justice for impeding Baltimore’s efforts to rebuild after Freddie Gray‘s death is ridiculous (“Freddie Gray and Donald Trump,” April 15) President Trump has been in office for only four months and now is being accused of contributing to Baltimore’s long history of failures. Clearly, Baltimore has had a long history of Democratic failures for over 50 years. [skip]

The citizens of the city recognize the city’s repeated failures and are bailing out by the thousands. Baltimore has been soft on crime since the 1980s and is still one of the most violent cities in the country. The schools are run by the teachers’ union and they are a disaster that no one has the power to challenge. And what did President Barack Obama do for the city during his eight years in the White House? Nothing. But did anyone dare blame him for impeding Baltimore’s efforts to rebuild? No.

Any blame lies squarely on Democratic leadership — at least until they recognize that they are the problem. Don’t try to pass the buck and blame anyone else.

Since progressivism cannot possibly be wrong, admitting error is extremely unlikely. As always, I’ll continue to report on the Freddie Gray case as developments warrant. Apart from Baltimore’s problems, there remain three main outstanding issues I’m following:

credit: the conservativetreehouse.com

The continuing lawsuit brought by the officers she persecuted against Marilyn Mosby.

The complaint(s?) filed against Mosby before the Maryland bar.

Internal disciplinary investigations against the officers within the BPD.