The Baltimore Police Department has decided not to renew a contract with a New York-based nonprofit to provide support to a key training program, with officials saying that the training can continue without paying outside consultants.
A $236,200 contract with the Center for Research on Institutions and Social Policy expired Feb. 23, but officials had left open the possibility that the contract could be renewed for a fourth year.
The contract paid the nonprofit foundation and its founder, Adam Walinsky, to provide guest speakers and experts and help tweak the curriculum for the department's Diamond Standard Training, which is taught by in-house personnel.
A city councilman had questioned whether the contract was necessary, while a review of records by The Baltimore Sun showed that over two years the foundation reported spending 40 percent of its funds on entertainment, travel and meals.
Anthony Guglielmi, the department's chief spokesman, said police brass strongly back the training but believe the curriculum can continue without the contract.
"As of now, Diamond Standard Training is being effectuated by commanders at the academy," he said. "It was designed to train the trainers, and now that's what is happening."
A second, one-year contract, approved for up to $123,000 to a former Navy SEAL who teaches arrest techniques and has earned nearly $2 million since 2007, is to expire at the end of June. Guglielmi said no decisions have been made about that contract.
Education and training director John King, who according to officials evaluated the programs and decided not to renew the foundation's contract, could not be reached for comment.
Councilman Brandon Scott, who had questioned the contract, said he was encouraged by the decision.
"We have great officers and great leadership at [education and training]," Scott said. "We can showcase our own folks and not look to the outside, and save taxpayer dollars. That's especially important in these tough economic times."
Walinsky, who developed the now-defunct national Police Corps program, is a close adviser to Police CommissionerFrederick H. Bealefeld IIIand helped to develop the Diamond program, which trains entire shifts of officers for a month at a time. Officials say the training is unique, paid for out of cash seized in investigations, and has helped drive down police-involved shootings and complaints against officers.
At a council hearing last month, the Police Department brought more than 20 officers to testify to the benefits of Diamond Training. Bealefeld said Walinsky provided valuable assistance and that how he spent the contract money was his business.
Walinsky said publicly that he did not receive a salary for his work with the city, but contract documents and invoices showed that he and a partner budgeted for and received six-figure payments. In tax documents, the foundation reported paying no salaries and spending most of its money on meals and other miscellaneous expenses. Walinsky told The Baltimore Sun that the entertainment expenses were for meals to discuss training with police commanders.
Since 2009, Walinsky's foundation received three contracts with the city for up to $605,000, though records show not all of that money was spent each year. Deputy Commissioner John Skinner said the costs associated with Diamond Training boil down to $9 a day per officer. About 1,900 officers take the training.
The other contract, for arrest training, is with Lew Hicks, a former Navy SEAL who first worked with Walinsky on a Police Corps project and previously had a contract to train Baltimore police officers in 2000.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun