Ar­rests by po­lice’s Ci­tiWatch unit de­clined by 80% in decade

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - MARYLAND - By Kevin Rec­tor krec­[email protected]­ twit­­tor­sun

Ar­rests ini­ti­ated by the small unit of Bal­ti­more po­lice of­fi­cers as­signed to mon­i­tor the city’s vast net­work of Ci­tiWatch cam­eras have fallen about 80% this decade, ac­cord­ing to de­part­ment data.

In 2010, the Ci­tiWatch unit made 1,282 ar­rests. In 2018, it made 274 ar­rests.

The unit’s tally of ar­rests has fluc­tu­ated be­tween those years, but the trend has been down­ward — with the sharpest drop oc­cur­ring from 2014, when the unit was re­spon­si­ble for 1,314 ar­rests, to 2015, when it was re­spon­si­ble for 633.

Ev­ery year since then has seen a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline, with 529 ar­rests in 2016 and 315 in 2017.

The lat­est de­clines come de­spite a small

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bump in Ci­tiWatch staffing, from three of­fi­cers as­signed to the unit in 2015 and 2016 to four of­fi­cers in 2017 and 2018.

De­tec­tive Jeremy Sil­bert, a po­lice spokesman, said the ar­rest fig­ures account only for ar­rests made di­rectly by Ci­tiWatch per­son­nel, and do not account for ar­rests made by other op­er­a­tional units with the as­sis­tance of Ci­tiWatch per­son­nel or us­ing Ci­tiWatch cam­eras.

Sil­bert also said gun ar­rests by Ci­tiWatch em­ploy­ees have in­creased over the same time pe­riod, from seven in 2010 to 22 in 2018. Data show the num­ber of gun ar­rests has swung widely from year to year — from 17 in 2011 to 31 in 2012, and from 13 in 2014 to 25 in 2015.

The city has 744 cam­eras across the city. On av­er­age, about 8% are out of service at any given time, po­lice have said.

The de­clines in Ci­tiWatch ar­rests were part of a broader de­cline in over­all ar­rests by the de­part­ment dur­ing the same time pe­riod.

In 2010, there were more than 60,000 ar­rests across the city. In 2015, there were closer to 30,000. Sil­bert said there were fewer than 22,000 in 2018.

The dra­matic de­cline in ar­rests re­flects changes in polic­ing pol­icy in the city.

In the early 2000s, un­der then-Mayor Martin O’Malley, there were more than 100,000 ar­rests per year in the city — the re­sult of a con­certed ef­fort to drive down vi­o­lent crime in part by tar­get­ing mi­nor of­fenses. The ACLU of Mary­land sued the city over its tac­tics, and the city re­lented, lead­ing to steady de­clines in ar­rests.

In more re­cent years, po­lice have said the de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion of pos­sess­ing small amounts of mar­i­juana also has cut down on the to­tal num­ber of ar­rests made in the city.


A Bal­ti­more po­lice sergeant ob­serves mul­ti­ple street cam­eras at Ci­tiWatch head­quar­ters in 2012.

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