With social media now the new wave of communication, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts has taken to Twitter to address the concerns of city residents with weekly online live chats in his “Twitter Town Hall.”
Batts and his team began hosting the hour-long candid web chat in January in an effort to keep the public informed about what’s going on in Baltimore, and what he’s doing to combat a rising tide of violence that has already left 27 dead this year.
“Why aren’t there more officers patrolling regular beats on foot?” a user named Prickleback asked the commissioner via Twitter.
Jalen Elrod questioned the direction the city is headed, asking Batts, “Why is Baltimore on track to have the highest number of murders this year since 2007?”
As Twitter users laid out their concerns, Batts responded promptly, looking to ease their minds.
“We’re seeing a lot of violence surrounding marijuana, home invasions,” Batts responded. “We will follow the violence wherever it leads to.”
City resident Michael Bell didn’t seem convinced, and demanded the commissioner provide more in-depth responses. “Hello. With all these murders happening in bitter cold what are your plans for this summer? I’m praying for my city,” he wrote.
Batts said his department is already addressing the root causes of the temporary surge in violence. “I’m very confident in our crime strategy,” he said.
“In the first days [of January] we had a grouping of violence and then a second group mid-month, we are looking at the connections,” Batts wrote. “The pace has slowed and I’m confident our strategy will work. You’ll see us bring people to justice.”
So far, Batts may be delivering on that promise. Following the Jan. 31 stabbing death of Kim Leto, 51, it took police less than a week to arrest and charge two suspects, Alonzo Gorham-Ramos, 14, and Allen Pinkney, 16.
“Twitter Town Halls are just one more means for Commissioner Batts to be open and transparent with the citizens of Baltimore,” police spokesman Lt. Eric Kowalczyk told the AFRO, adding that the commissioner will be a regular participant each week.
“The goal is and has always been greater transparency and direct interaction with the citizens of Baltimore,” Kowalczyk said.
Specific topics for upcoming town halls have not been determined, but police officials told the AFRO that a Twitter Town Hall will be conducted each week through the remainder of the year.