Our communities must be safe for our communities to thrive. I understand that issues of safety are more expansive than policing, and that to make the city as safe as we want it to be, we will have to address issues related to job development, job access, grade-level reading, transportation, and college readiness. But it is true that for kids to go school they must be alive and for adults to work they must not be in jail. As we approach the range of issues affecting safety we can be nevertheless thoughtful about how, as a community, we approach crime, addiction, the role of the law enforcement, and how we choose to engage those that have committed crimes and fulfilled their obligations.
Invest in Effective Crime Prevention Strategies
Establish community first-responders to mediate and de-escalate situations in the community, prevent retaliation, and connect people in crisis to opportunity and treatment (Models: Baltimore Safe Streets, Violence Interrupters, Skid Row Housing Trust).
Reinvigorate the CeaseFire Program focused on providing pathways to a better life for the small number of individuals most at risk of perpetuating the cycle of violence.
Redistribute an increasing portion of the police budget to invest in expanding employment and educational opportunities in communities most affected by crime (Model: LA 1% campaign).
Make the use of restorative justice a primary means of addressing offenses committed by youth to repair harm done and reduce the chances of committing future crimes (Models: Baltimore Community Conferencing Center, Redhook Youth Court).
Advocate to support, expand and sustain re-entry programs that prevent returning citizens from reoffending by connecting them to housing, employment and health resources upon release. This will help put these individuals on a path to successful reintegration into society and contribute to public savings that can be reinvested in families and communities. (Model: Baltimore’s Public Safety Compact that has dramatically reduced recidivism, see: Abell Salutes: The Public Safety Compact)
Advocate for automatic expungement of criminal records to help individuals eligible for expungement overcome current bureaucratic hurdles to getting their records removed from public view, reintegrate into society and prevent recidivism.
Commit to reinvestment strategies such as the Public Safety Compact, in order to coordinate resources for eligible incarcerated adults to decrease the likelihood of recidivism and increase the likelihood of successful re-entry upon release.
End the War on Drugs
Together We Can:
Build the capacity of community responders, in collaboration with city agencies, to divert those addicted to drugs to treatment and rehabilitation instead of arrest and incarceration.
Establish a screening process for people entering the system to identify their needs and triage with other service-providers (i.e. screen for substance use), with a focus on building their capacity to re-integrate into the economy and society.
Develop a concrete implementation and funding plan with clear benchmarks and public accountability mechanisms to put into place treatment on demand – a longstanding priority of the Baltimore community (and a key recommendation of the Mayor’s Heroin Treatment and Prevention Task Force Report). Key aspects of this plan and strategy should include:
Centralized, easy-to-access intake that is available 24/7, with immediate access to an addiction counselor or social worker;
Availability of evidenced-based treatment options that align with patient need (as opposed to just lowest-cost);
Universal case management;
Treatment for co-occurring disorders; and
Access to treatment for most vulnerable individuals in the city such as inmates and the recently incarcerated.
Continue to equip police officers and other first responders with Naloxone and train them in its use.
Ensure a Just, Fair, and Effective Response to Crime
Reframe enforcement priorities as responding to and solving serious crimes by advocating to decriminalize low-level, nonviolent offenses such as spitting, disturbing the peace, or possessing an open container of alcohol
Develop new models of using data to inform policing and service-delivery efforts that do not reinforce existing biases.
Change the Police Department Use of Force Policy to require and invest in de-escalation tactics. This includes the requirement that police undergo at least as many hours of training in de-escalation and crisis intervention as they spend learning how to shoot firearms.
Eliminate the “reaching for my weapon” excuse by replacing officers’ standard issue firearms with “smart guns” that can only be fired by the designated user.
Hire people most affected by police violence to conduct mandatory anti-racism training for police, with implications for officer performance evaluations and decisions about deployment, promotion and discipline.
Enact an ordinance making chokeholds and “rough rides” (leaving a person unrestrained in a police vehicle) by police officers illegal.
End the use of ticketing or arrest quotas as factors in decisions about promoting or providing incentives to police officers.
Examine the link between police officer overtime pay and arrest quotas.
Require a majority of Baltimore police officers to be recruited from, and live in, the communities with the highest rates of police contact.
Advocate to end the cash bail system that conditions freedom on ability to pay and replace it with a system of pretrial supervision.
Advocate to create a pathway to end juvenile detention in Baltimore, and ultimately across Maryland, by:
Diverting youth offenders to restorative justice programs
Screening youth offenders for literacy gaps, educational challenges, substance use, and other issues to connect them to educational and community supports to get back on track
Increasing the quality and quantity of social services and youth development opportunities
Reinvest funds currently going to keep youth in jail to community-based approaches that have yielded better results in terms of lowering recidivism such as Multisystemic therapy, cost less than juvenile detention and that thereby, save public resources for reinvestment in opportunity. (Model: Seattle City Council Resolution; MST Compact)
Ensure Accountability and Oversight
Encourage the Department of Justice to include the following accountability measures in their Consent Decree with the Baltimore Police Department:
Review the practices and policies of the Baltimore City Schools Police (i.e. School Resource Officers)]
Implement best-practices related to the standards and processes of internal affairs investigations.
Expand in-service training to focus extensively on de-escalation, crisis intervention, procedural justice, and racial bias.
Create pathways to empowered civilian oversight, comprehensive tracking of police Use of Force, and increased transparency of internal affairs investigations and the status of civilian complaints.
Create a system whereby victims and their families can monitor the progress of their case in real-time to ensure justice is done.
Establish an open police complaints database with information about the number of complaints against each officer, the type of complaint, outcome of investigation, and a system for imposing escalating disciplinary consequences on an officer after receiving a given number of complaints of similar nature within a specified time frame. (Model: Invisible Institute’s Chicago Citizens’ Police Data Project).
Empower the Baltimore Police Civilian Review Board by increasing funding, giving discipline power, hiring civilian investigators and requiring that the board be comprised of those most affected by police violence.
Establish the principle of fairness regarding police union contracts so that these contracts do not confer additional rights to which citizens themselves do not have access. Open up the contract negotiating process to include community involvement.
Eliminate provisions in the Baltimore Police Union contract that remove records of civilian complaints against officers, limit civilian involvement in administrative hearing boards, and that prevent officers who are placed on the “do not call list” from being disciplined.
Institute third party reviews and ensure long-term storage of police footage from body camera and other video footage.
Establish a system where the criminal, administrative, and civilian oversight investigations occur simultaneously to avoid any delay in the process of getting to the truth.
Require police officers to submit to drug and alcohol testing following any incident where deadly force is used.
End the practice of giving police officers the power to strike candidates from administrative hearing boards.
Advocate for a full repeal of the Maryland Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights. The current Mayor has called on state legislators to address 11 barriers to police accountability contained in the Maryland Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights. These recommendations, however, do not go far enough. For example, the Mayor advocated for the 10-day waiting period officers are given to retain an attorney for misconduct investigations to be reduced to 5 days. This would continue to impose significant delays on investigating police officers for misconduct. We will advocate for a full repeal of the Law Officer’s Bill of Rights, including the waiting period before interrogations, the statute of limitations for investigating complaints, and the hearing board provision that allows officers to have fellow officers decide whether they committed misconduct.