Mayor asks state for $30M to help pay for po­lice re­forms

City ex­pects changes to be man­dated by Jus­tice Dept.

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Rec­tor

Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake is ask­ing the state for more than $30 mil­lion to pay for staffing in­creases, new tech­nol­ogy and other in­vest­ments in the Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment that the city ex­pects will be man­dated un­der a pend­ing con­sent de­cree with the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice.

The re­quests, put to Gov. Larry Ho­gan in a let­ter made public Tues­day, break with a pre­vi­ous state­ment by Rawl­ingsBlake that the city would not look to the state or fed­eral govern­ment to pick up the tab.

“Un­der­stand­ing the fi­nan­cial con­straints of [the] State, I be­lieve that it is im­por­tant that you un­der­stand what the scope is of some of the City’s needs,” Rawl­ings-Blake wrote. She asks Ho­gan to pri­or­i­tize the po­lice im­prove­ments — along with sev­eral ed­u­ca­tion, health and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment projects — as he be­gins con­sid­er­ing his bud­get pro­posal for next year.

One of the mayor’s re­quests: $20 mil­lion over five years to im­ple­ment an “Early Warn­ing Sys­tem” that would “iden­tify prob­lem­atic be­hav­ior from BPD officers at an early stage and im­ple­ment ap­pro­pri­ate reme­dies (in­ter­ven­tion, train­ing, ter­mi­na­tion, etc.).”

Other re­quests in­clude $9 mil­lion next

The gov­er­nor’s of­fice “will re­view it, as all bud­get re­quests are re­viewed.” Amelia Chase, a spokes­woman for Gov. Larry Ho­gan

year to ren­o­vate po­lice sta­tions across the city and an­other $2.4 mil­lion to put mo­bile data ter­mi­nals in all of the depart­ment’s pa­trol ve­hi­cles. She also seeks $1.1 mil­lion over five years to hire four co­or­di­na­tors to train and ad­vise po­lice officers “in ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual as­sault in­ves­ti­ga­tion and in­ter­view tech­niques.”

Amelia Chasse, a spokes­woman for Ho­gan, said in a state­ment Tues­day that the gov­er­nor’s of­fice had just re­ceived the let­ter “and will re­view it, as all bud­get re­quests are re­viewed.”

Chasse said Ho­gan and his ad­min­is­tra­tion “will con­tinue to work closely with city lead­er­ship, in­clud­ing the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion, to ad­vance our many shared goals and pri­or­i­ties.”

The Jus­tice Depart­ment’s Civil Rights Di­vi­sion spent more than a year in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Po­lice Depart­ment and in Au­gust is­sued a scathing re­port that found po­lice have for years vi­o­lated the rights of lo­cal res­i­dents, par­tic­u­larly in pre­dom­i­nantly black neigh­bor­hoods. The re­port found vi­o­la­tions in vir­tu­ally all as­pects of daily po­lice work, in­clud­ing officers dis­pro­por­tion­ately stop­ping and search­ing black mo­torists and pedes­tri­ans and in­ap­pro­pri­ately dis­miss­ing re­ported sex­ual as­saults.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched af­ter the death in April 2015 of 25-year-old Fred­die Gray from in­juries suf­fered in po­lice cus­tody sparked wide­spread protests, and his fu­neral was fol­lowed by ri­ot­ing, loot­ing and ar­son.

The city en­tered into an “Agree­ment in Prin­ci­ple” with the Jus­tice Depart­ment promis­ing re­forms, and is cur­rently locked in ne­go­ti­a­tions over the con­sent de­cree, which will man­date spe­cific re­forms.

The projects for which Rawl­ings-Blake re­quested fund­ing likely rep­re­sent only a por­tion of the costs the city will in­cur. Con­sent de­crees usu­ally usher in sweep­ing re­forms, and Bal­ti­more of­fi­cials have ac­knowl­edged that the Po­lice Depart­ment is woe­fully be­hind, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to tech­nol­ogy.

“Those is­sues don’t ex­ist in a vac­uum,” Rawl­ings-Blake said in an Au­gust in­ter­view. “They ex­ist be­cause of lim­ited re­sources.”

Still, in that same in­ter­view, Rawl­ingsBlake dis­missed the idea the city would seek help with fund­ing. “I don’t an­tic­i­pate look­ing to the state or the fed­eral govern­ment,” she said.

“There may be some grant op­por­tu­ni­ties fed­er­ally or with the state that we could pur­sue that may match some of the man­dated im­prove­ments we have to make,” Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis said in the same in­ter­view, “but gen­er­ally when the Depart­ment of Jus­tice comes in un­der a con­sent de­cree, they aren’t com­ing in with a check­book.”

An­thony McCarthy, a spokesman for Rawl­ings-Blake, said Tues­day that their com­ments were meant to con­vey that “they were will­ing to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done.”

Now, Rawl­ings-Blake “is an­tic­i­pat­ing that re­form is go­ing to take a lot of dif­fer­ent forms, and we have a lot of obli­ga­tions to meet,” he said.

“Hope­fully the gov­er­nor is in­ter­ested in, as he has said sev­eral times, help­ing the ci­ti­zens of Bal­ti­more.”

Chasse, Ho­gan’s spokes­woman, said Ho­gan is “deeply com­mit­ted to build­ing a Bal­ti­more City that is safer, more vi­brant, and a bet­ter place to live, work, and raise a fam­ily.”

With­out a fi­nal­ized con­sent de­cree, it is im­pos­si­ble to know how much the process will cost in to­tal.

But McCarthy said city of­fi­cials be­lieve it won’t ex­ceeed the $5 mil­lion to $10 mil­lion per year the mayor es­ti­mated in Au­gust.

For the Early Warn­ing Sys­tem, Rawl­ingsBlake has re­quested $8 mil­lion in fis­cal 2018, then $3 mil­lion a year through fis­cal 2022, based on the cost of im­ple­ment­ing a sim­i­lar sys­tem in New Or­leans.

The mayor asked for $9 mil­lion for po­lice sta­tions in fis­cal 2018, not­ing that the city be­lieves it will be able to at­tract match­ing con­tri­bu­tions from the pri­vate sec­tor. She did not spec­ify the pri­vate part­ners.

Ear­lier this year, lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers — in­clud­ing from Un­der Ar­mour, the Bal­ti­more Ravens and Wells Fargo — com­mit­ted $2.4 mil­lion to ren­o­vate the West­ern Dis­trict sta­tion, where Gray was found un­con­scious.

For the hir­ing of sex­ual as­sault re­sponse co­or­di­na­tors, the mayor asked for $300,000 in fis­cal 2018, then $200,000 per year through fis­cal 2021.

The mayor asked for $1.9 mil­lion for the mo­bile data ter­mi­nals in pa­trol cars and an­other $500,000 for ad­di­tional hard­ware that would al­low Bal­ti­more officers to “share in­for­ma­tion ef­fi­ciently” with other state agen­cies.

The mayor also asked for $815,000 to fund a “Cri­sis In­ter­ven­tion Team” of men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als who would train po­lice officers to han­dle peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness, ad­dic­tion, or both.

McCarthy said the city does not an­tic­i­pate Ho­gan will pro­vide all the fund­ing re­quested, but any­thing would help.

KIM HAIRSTON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake seeks $20 mil­lion over five years to im­ple­ment an “Early Warn­ing Sys­tem” that would “iden­tify prob­lem­atic be­hav­ior from BPD officers.”

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