To support the efforts of the City of Baltimore and BPD, in implementation of its consent decree through funding from the Ford Foundation, NPF facilitated focus groups and disseminated an online feedback form to gather perspectives from BPD personnel on the department’s challenges and areas of change needed for enhanced community policing and engagement between November 2018 and January 2019. NPF also partnered with Loyola University Maryland and No Boundaries Coalition to facilitate focus groups and interview sessions and administer an open feedback form to gather community member perceptions of BPD. They also elicited input on their expectations for police service between June 2019 and October 2019.
Key results and observations from the input collected from Baltimore community members included:
- The most common desire among participants was for more “respect” from the police.
- Most participants encouraged more positive community interaction, including through more non-enforcement oriented engagement to enhance community safety and the relationship between the community and the BPD. Participants substantially less frequently encouraged “reducing interaction” (4% of statements coded “community interaction”).
- Many participants encouraged increased “visibility”, including “foot patrol.”
- Participants provided examples of negative interactions and strained relationships with the BPD.
- Participants demonstrated a clear commitment to providing input and action items that can lead to better engagement, build and strengthen relationships, and enhance community safety.
- Participants expressed a desire for BPD members to express more care for the communities they serve, act with “professionalism” and enhanced “communication,” and appropriately respond to calls for service and address quality of life issues.
Key results and observations from the input collected from BPD personnel included:
- The most common desire among participants was for changes in “staffing” through the strategic deployment of sworn and non-sworn BPD members to better support patrol functions and enable patrol officers to engage in community policing activities.
- Participants sought “increased support” from supervisors, elected officials, the criminal justice system, the media, and the public to assist them in being able to engage in more community policing activities.
- Participants exhibited physical and emotional responses to working conditions at the time, including showing notable levels of fatigue and low morale.
- Participants demonstrated a desire to improve the department’s community policing efforts, despite being skeptical of tangible results given the absence of change following similar focus groups in prior years.
- Participants expressed a desire for a community policing strategy that expands non-enforcement oriented engagement and recognized the importance of improved “communication” with the community.
The input in these reports was used by BPD to inform the development of its community policing plan, which was approved by the court-appointed consent decree monitoring team on April 1, 2020. The community policing plan aims to institutionalize community policing principles throughout BPD in order to improve police-community relations and reduce crime and disorder through collaborative problem-solving partnerships with the community. It emphasizes that every BPD officer is a community policing officer, who should work closely with their community to solve problems and treat people fairly and courteously—a perspective expressed by both community and police participants during this process. In coordination with the BPD staffing plan, the community policing plan includes intentions for more strategic deployment, including through dedicated patrol time for proactive community policing such as foot patrol, which was also captured in both the BPD and community reports. Additionally, the community policing plan outlines community-oriented training to emphasize the importance of community policing throughout the curricula—including through training on use of force and fair and impartial policing—and introduces peer intervention training aimed at preventing misconduct and supporting officer wellbeing.
For more information, visit the following links:
BPD Community Policing Plan:
NPF Baltimore Community Members Input Report: