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by Peter Moskos

August 16, 2016

The DOJ is Right (3): The actual department is a mess (2/3)

[See posts 1 and 3]

C) It's not like most police don't want to make things better. They can't. A lot this is systemic to any large bureaucracy in a poor city. But it's not like cops haven't tried to improve things. People care. But nothing seems to get better. The organization is dysfunctional:
Individuals throughout the Department have highlighted that the Department needs to significantly improve its training program. For example, in 2012, the Fraternal Order of Police’s Blueprint for Improved Policing in Baltimore includes an entire section focused on training issues and recommendations. See FOP Blueprint for Improved Policing (July 11, 2012), at 6–8. More recently, BPD’s July 2015 Training Academy Needs Assessment provides a program analysis, describing major issues in personnel, curriculum, equipment and structures, and budgeting. It also notes that the Academy has been working to address some of these issues.
And we don't know what is happening because:
Serious deficiencies in BPD’s supervision of its enforcement activities, including through data collection and analysis, contribute to the Department’s failure to identify and correct unconstitutional policing.
D) And then we get to a failed discipline process:
The system has several key deficiencies. First, BPD sets thresholds of activity that trigger “alerts” to supervisors about potentially problematic conduct that are too high. Because of these high thresholds, BPD supervisors often are not made aware of troubling behavioral patterns until after officers commit egregious misconduct. Second, even where alerts are triggered, we found that BPD supervisors do not consistently take appropriate action to counsel the officer, consider additional training, or otherwise intervene in a way that will correct the behavior before an adverse event occurs. Third, critical information is omitted or expunged from the EIS that could help address officer training or support needs or help prevent future misconduct.
It is clear that the Department has been unable to interrupt serious patterns of misconduct. Our investigation found that numerous officers had recurring patterns of misconduct that were not adequately addressed. Similarly, we note that, in the past five years, 25 BPD officers were separately sued four or more times for Fourth Amendment violations.
You might call that a red flag.

E) Officers feel and are unsupported:
BPD fails to support its officers through effective strategies for recruitment, retention, and staffing patterns, and does not provide them with appropriate technology and equipment.
First, BPD does not have a Department-wide plan to address staffing shortages in patrol; instead, each district deals with its own shortages independently. Districts address their staffing shortages by “drafting,” or requiring, officers to work additional hours after their regular ten-hour shift. Officers are “drafted” to work up to an additional ten hours after their regular shift, making for, potentially, a twenty-hour day.
Officers we spoke with consistently informed us of the serious negative impact that drafting has on their morale. Additionally, the potential negative impact that drafting has on officers’ decision-making skills after working for up to twenty hours is equally troubling.
This policy contributed to the death of my friend, who was killed in a traffic accident after many months of mandatory overtime and 12-hour shifts.

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