BALTIMORE, MD Baltimore City police are changing tactics in how they schedule officers in an effort to make officers’ jobs more efficient and city streets safer.
Police said the new plan will give the department flexibility to rapidly move officers to areas where crime is occurring.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the strategy behind the Baltimore City Police Department’s new public safety deployment plan is to get more officers on the streets where and when they are needed.
“Under this new schedule, Commissioner (Anthony) Batts will have the power to quickly and more efficiently flood neighborhoods experiencing increased violence. He will be able to more effectively implement strategies that allow our police officers to spend more time getting to know our residents,” Rawlings-Blake said.
The Police Department’s schedule is expanding from three to four shifts with officers, mostly on patrol, working four days a week, 10 hours a day.
The police commissioner said it’s a more efficient way to fight crime, saying it’s driven by calls for service. Batts said the plan is designed to have overlap, with officers always on the streets. The plan will also reduce overtime and create more community policing.
“That means officers have the ability now to get out of their car, to go to community meetings, engage with the community, and the community has made it very clear time and again, ‘We want walking beats,'” Batts said.
Batts said he thinks the plan will give officers more time with their families and that will improve morale. But whenever police make a schedule change, the commissioner said he knows criminals take notice.
“Our strategy is based on throwing them off constantly, so we’re changing our strategies on a regular basis. We’re not going to dramatically change the schedule, but what it does allow us to do is move smaller pieces around. We’ll have more resources independently to do more things with, so I think that will be a positive for us,” Batts said.
Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police President Gene Ryan and members of the Community Relations Council said they are also supportive of the plan, saying more officers will be on the streets during heavy-crime periods.
For the first time in the Police Department’s history, officers were given an opportunity to choose their daily work schedule through a bidding process. Each officer’s work schedule was awarded based on seniority, according to the mayor’s office.
“The new schedule is a direct result of our new union contract,” Ryan said. “The negotiations required to bring this new contract to fruition were often very difficult; however, each struggle strengthened the resolve to bring us to this point.”
The new plan takes effect Sunday.