Below is the text of a letter that members of the Baltimore Public Safety Collective will deliver to Commissioner Batts at the April 10 BPD/Mayoral town hall, to be held at the American Brewery building, 1701 N. Gay Street, at 7 p.m. The Eclipse will document any response (or non-response) received by the Collective and post a wrap-up of tonight’s and any future town hall.
Dear Commissioner Batts:
We are a collective of Baltimoreans formed out of great concern for the safety of the residents of and visitors to our city, particularly those who have been or are at risk of becoming victims of violence at the hands of the Baltimore Police Department. We were pleased to learn that you and the Department will be holding town halls to address the serious problem of violence in Baltimore and of your intent to engage the community in making the city safer.
As you know, some of the most serious recent violent acts have been committed by your officers. We share your concern about street gangs; however, while most of us and most Baltimoreans in general will have little or no interaction with gang members, nearly everyone in the City will at some time or another encounter police officers. Therefore it is critical that the Department and the community immediately identify and work to eliminate the causes of officers’ violent behavior.
While we plan to do our part by continuing to attend the town halls, we thought it would be appropriate to lay out our questions in writing below, so that we do not take up inordinate amounts of speaking time at these district-specific meetings that should be used by those living in each district to address their neighborhoods’ discrete concerns.
- Please provide or instruct us on where to obtain a comprehensive list of victims killed or injured in police shootings and beatings in Baltimore City since 2004.
- You have publicly stated that you do not have the authority to suspend officers. Who does have this authority?
- How can citizens access information about and track the progress of internal BPD investigations and disciplinary procedures?
- How many officers are currently out on suspension or are on some type of restricted duty?
- You have said in recent Twitter town halls that only 30% of BPD officers live in Baltimore City. Of the 30%, how many live in the districts to which they are assigned? Beyond directing employees to state homeownership incentives, what is the Department’s plan to increase the percentage of City residents on its payroll? Do you and other high-ranking Department officials live inside the City? How many of 2014’s police-involved shootings have been committed by non-resident officers?
- What is the Department’s explanation for the high number of police-involved shootings so far this calendar year?
- What is the expected timeline for the hiring of a permanent academy director? Will that person be give a mandate to eliminate or decrease violence committed by officers?
We would appreciate a written response to this letter by April 30, 2014. We look forward to your response and thank you in advance for your cooperation as we address the crisis of police violence in Baltimore.