Baltimore Police Chief Anthony Batts said Nov. 21 he plans, over the next five years, to target gangs, guns, violent repeat offenders and the environment that allows crime to flourish in the city.
Batts, who has been on the job for a year, said he plans to bring "much-needed" and "long-sought-after reform" to a department that has relied too much on outdated technologies and processes to control violent crime.
His remarks came as he unveiled a five-year crime control plan that will feature homicide detectives assigned to specific neighborhoods, beefed up investigative units and elite plainclothes officers detailed to police districts.
In the technology arena, Batts also wants to install miniature cameras on officers' uniforms and equip street officers with electronic tablets.
Process changes will include reducing “the number of units dispatched to non-emergency calls to create more time for proactive work in neighborhoods.”
The plan, “Public Safety in the City of Baltimore—a Strategy for Improvement,” reflects what Batts said is the need for the police department to regain trust throughout the community and to “bolster support systems to strengthen data quality” and share “timely intelligence.”
His boss applauded the report. “The fight to reduce crime is my administration’s top priority,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told the AFRO.”We have been focusing our crime strategy around the core principles of targeting the most violent repeat offenders, gangs and drug dealers, while working every day to improve relationships with communities and modernize our police force.”
“We know that there are things as an organization that we are incredibly good at.” Batts said. “We also know there exist areas that can be improved.”
“It is my goal to give the officers protecting this city the tools to do their job better, faster and smarter,” he said.
According to officials, many key points in the plan are currently being implemented.
“We have made progress, including making over 1,000 gun arrests and taking more than 1,800 guns off the streets, but we are not satisfied,” said Rawlings-Blake. “Our city continues to grow. Last year, more than 23 million visitors navigated our city, enjoying numerous tourist attractions without incident.”
Among the planned reforms are a phone reporting unit, a professional standards bureau and a more efficient turn-around time in collecting and distributing data and resources.
“I will never shake the feeling I get when I have to console a family who has lost a loved one to senseless violence. Their faces and their stories continue to strengthen my resolve in fighting for a safer Baltimore,” said Rawlings-Blake.
The full report is available on the Baltimore Police Department’s website and can be accessed at http://www.baltimorepolice.org/images/pdfs/newsroom/A-Strategic-Plan-for-Improvement.pdf.