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Baltimore Puts Officers Back On Foot Patrol

Baltimore Puts Officers Back On Foot Patrol

The Baltimore Sun via YellowBrix

January 07, 2010

Talk to residents and business owners alike and they agree they want to see more police officers walking instead of driving.

They want a cop they can talk to, a cop they can see, a cop who understands their problems and can tell, street to street, door to door, the good guys from the bad.

For the most part, police leaders agree. But sprawling cities, a deluge of emergency calls and strained budgets have turned the old-time walking beat cop into a luxury.

Baltimore’s police commissioner, Frederick H. Bealefeld III, wants to change all that. He’s using a $10 million federal grant awarded to the city to hire 50 officers, 25 of whom are already going through the training academy. And when they graduate in a few months, they’ll find themselves on foot instead of in a car.

The first instinct, Bealefeld said, is to put them in high-crime areas, scenes of recent shootings and homicides. “But I want to challenge convention,” he said, saying he’s ordered his patrol chief to concentrate on “quality-of-life enforcement,” deploying the new officers where they can help combat prostitution, public drinking and so forth.

These are the types of crimes that Baltimore residents often say get lost amid the murder and mayhem, and can frustrate them enough that they threaten to leave the city if their garbage can gets stolen one more time, or their planter is broken, or their wife gets propositioned for sex while carrying groceries inside.

“I think that having a footman in those areas could do more to garner community support and reaffirm our commitment to making neighborhoods safer,” Bealefeld said.

For years, city police have gone back and forth on foot patrol, most often implementing the strategy after high-profile crimes or in business districts. Among beat cops, such an assignment can be seen as punishment. An effort to put foot officers in the Greenmount Avenue corridor met with criticism from the police union, even though business owners praised the effort.

The argument has always been that it is too costly to dedicate a single officer to a few streets or a neighborhood, knowing that he or she cannot quickly respond to an emergency just blocks away. Patrol officers complain that they are strapped by staffing levels and trying to answer more than 1 million 911 calls a year.

And while we will probably never return to the old, espantoon-swinging neighborhood cop on the beat who knew everybody’s business and then some, Bealefeld said he doesn’t buy the argument that an officer on foot is something cities can no longer afford. “I think it’s more cultural than financial,” he said.

“I’m not proposing that we put 80 percent of our police force out on foot,” the commissioner said. “With a million calls a year and in a city this size, we have to have some degree of mobility. No question. And in terms of violent crime, you need a very quick response.”

But he said a foot officer who talks to people instead of driving by them can help “break down the fear of crime.” He noted that “most of the cops in this Police Department have no experience, no real experience, being deployed on foot.”

The money he’s using comes from a program that began under President Bill Clinton to put 100,000 cops on the nation’s streets called Community Oriented Policing. Sheryl Goldstein, head of the mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice, said the last time the city got money under the COP grant was 2001. That time, the money funded officers for three years.

If all works out, residents will soon see more cops walking around Baltimore.


To see more of The Baltimore Sun, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.baltimoresun.com.

Copyright © 2010, The Baltimore Sun

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Flatbush

    about 4 years ago

    58 Comments

    I agree with BklynsFinest347! Flood it neighborhood by neighborhood first. Get to know your people. Keep everyone SAFE.

  • 026_max50

    Gildor9

    about 4 years ago

    238 Comments

    Sounds like a good plan to build better relationships with the community.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    community policing sounds good, beat patrol will put you in touch with people, some good some bad,stay safe out there

  • Sfa_iv_max50

    revCCBeasley

    about 4 years ago

    2944 Comments

    Boy New York style community Policing....Great

  • 2008_1_rifle_max50

    kemartin1

    about 4 years ago

    54 Comments

    I think this idea is good, when I worked for Baltimore City Police I always enjoyed walking foot and you truely could get to know your post.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    rschum56629

    about 4 years ago

    30 Comments

    good luck...id rather a car!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    chick_ingray

    over 4 years ago

    18 Comments

    Community policing always works.. good luck and be safe!!!

  • Captured_2004-1-1_00028_max50

    LAC155

    over 4 years ago

    80 Comments

    Good for you Frederick Bealefeld!

  • Badge77_max50

    TheFuzz550

    over 4 years ago

    68 Comments

    If you spend more time getting to know the people you are trying to protect you will find that the community will trust the police more and view them as humans and not as robot drones of the government. Citizens are much more likely to be forthcoming with information when they trust the people they are giving it to. Large problems could be easily defused when they are much smaller if we would just take the time to listen to people more. I think this is a great idea. I hope it works out.

  • Thinker_max50

    darsavmo

    over 4 years ago

    11344 Comments

    This works...

  • Brotherhood_badge_with_black_ribbon_max160_max50

    kcop1

    over 4 years ago

    124 Comments

    Fantastic if they actually do it as they say they will.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    over 4 years ago

    10918 Comments

    Hope this works out for Baltimore; any time you can add bodies to the force, I'm all for it !!!

  • Tn_max50

    HCSO531

    over 4 years ago

    248 Comments

    I agree with BklynsFinest347, I come from a smaller department but I can testify that the shit works.. Hated it at first but when you run the problems out of their comfort zone into another and then another they will find another city to be a pain to...

  • Snoopy_6_max50

    Jonas

    over 4 years ago

    41146 Comments

    I think this can work, but I'm not a Cop! Just watch your backs more than ever guys and gals.

  • 34790005_max50

    blueblood454

    over 4 years ago

    98 Comments

    THIS IS A GREAT WAY TO TAKE BACK THE CITY FROM ALL THE POS THAT ROAM EVERYNIGHT DOING NO GOOD. THE DEPT. CAN ALSO TRY TO MAKE FOOT PATROL INTO A PERMANENT UNIT. FOOD FOR THOUGHT!!!

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