Union calls Baltimore police commissioner's plan 'untenable'

BALTIMORE (AP) — A crime-fighting strategy promoted by Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison is "untenable," the president of a union representing officers, sergeants and lieutenants said Tuesday.

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 President Sgt. Mike Mancuso said the recently unveiled plan is written for a department "flush with resources," and he says Baltimore's police department is not, The Baltimore Sun reported.

"The current deployment of Patrol Officers will not be able to, under any circumstances, implement the new crime plan as intended," Mancuso said in a release.

The former leader of the New Orleans police force, Harrison became Baltimore's police commissioner in March. He has been tasked with not only lowering the city's chronically high rates of violent crime, but also transforming a police department that is distrusted by many citizens due to past incidences of misconduct by officers.

Harrison's plan also offers long-term goals for the department over the next five years for crime reduction, community engagement, compliance with federal consent decree reforms, accountability, technology, increasing the ranks, and communication.

Part of his plan calls for 10-minute response time with "highest priority calls where life or property is in immediate danger," Harrison said. It also calls for officers to spend a third of their day — when not responding to direct and emergency calls — engaging the community and taking other "proactive efforts." The department also created "focused patrol areas" or "micro-zones" across the city's nine districts where officers will be concentrated.

Mancuso said for the plan to be effective, Harrison and the department need to face the truth that the department is in "dire" financial need and needs to be filled with more trained officers.

"As it stands now, there are not enough officers to even respond to the number of 911 calls, not to mention the addition of micro-zones, community engagement and proactive policing," Mancuso said in the release. "The plan, as presented is untenable."

A police department spokesman did not immediately return a message from The Baltimore Sun seeking comment.

Mancuso applauded the commissioner's efforts to put forward a crime plan, but said Harrison's past experience doesn't guarantee he's up to the challenges of Baltimore.

"I have no doubt that his success in New Orleans made him look like the perfect candidate for his current position," Mancuso said. "Unfortunately, Baltimore is not New Orleans and success implementing a Federal Consent Decree in New Orleans does not translate to solving our deep-rooted crime problem in Baltimore."

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com