2.13.2007

Early Trouble for Dixon's Community Policing Push

The trouble is that nearly all of Baltimore City's police commanders don't live inside of the city. Eight apparently live as far away as Pennsylvania. I am not sure whether this story is an overreaction or not. Policing does is an extremely localized profession, and I feel like it says something about the Commanders who would choose to live away from the people they serve. Perhaps its that I want to feel like my police officers have the same stake in my community that I do. Things like this make such a thing hard to believe, at least when it comes to commanders.

Delegate Jill Carter agrees.
“How can you talk about community policing if the police do not live in the community?” asked State Del. Jill Carter, who is running for mayor. “It you live a community you’re invested in it. I live in the district I serve, and so I understand the community’s pain.”
As does Mayor Dixon.
Mayor Sheila Dixon’s spokesman, Anthony McCarthy, said she prefers to have top commanders living in Baltimore.

“It’s Mayor Dixon’s preference to have all senior staff live in the city,” he said. “In Baltimore, she is working every day to create affordable housing [that] would make it easier for them to choose to do so. The mayor hopes to see more and more command staff choose to live in the city.”
I am not sure why a police COMMANDER would need affordable housing benefits. If their pay is that abysmal, perhaps the Mayor should consider a pay increase for these important officers.

Councilman Jack Young gets tough.
Councilman Jack Young, D-12th District, agreed that senior staff should live in the city.

“If they’re going to be in a high-level position, the should live here and get to know the residents of the city,” he said. “I think it should be required that all top-level people live in the city.”
I agree with Councilman Young. If you are going to be actively engaged in policing this city, you should at least be required to live in an adjacent county. There is no reason a police commander from Baltimore should be living in Pennsylvania, especially when that officer is using a state funded vehicle for his hour-plus commute each way.

Perhaps this position seems harsh and perhaps some will worry that it will increase Baltimore's troubles in hiring quality police. In my opinion, Baltimore should be looking for Commanders who value our city enough to make a life here. Furthermore, Baltimore should go out of their way to encourage police officers of all ranks to buy or rent in the neighborhood/ district in which they work. This is the key to community policing, the kind that fosters trust and accountability.

1 comment:

stitchmd said...

What I've heard from city police, apart from the usual issues of safe, affordable housing and schools, is that city police officers are required to carry their weapons at all times, whether on or off duty, when inside the city limits. And many don't want to do that.

I can't verify it except to say that I've heard more than a few say so when I worked in Baltimore County.