Officers in the Baltimore Police Department's Southern District will have new computers, bikes and other equipment thanks to $300,000 in gifts from three benefactors, who hope to spur donations from city businesses in other districts.
Police announced the gifts Thursday at the Locust Point headquarters of apparel company Under Armour, whose CEO, Kevin Plank, contributed one-third of the money and said city businesses need to "do more" to help police.
A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, the former executive director of the CIA and co-chairman of the Baltimore Police Foundation, also gave $100,000 and said he hopes the gift will spur businesses in the city's other eight districts to do the same.
"If this works, we intend to roll it out throughout the city, and this will have national policing implications," Krongard said. "If you can't get more bodies, you have to equip [the officers] better, and you have to train them better."
The city has been struggling with budget cuts, though the Police Department is hiring new officers and has not been hit as hard as other city agencies.
Still, police say they need better equipment to fight crime, and the gifts from Plank, Krongard and developer Jack Luetkemeyer will buy 30 desktop computers, nine electronic tablet devices, four fingerprint scanners, eight bicycles, 20 Tasers, and improvements to the district's gym.
Krongard, a Baltimore County resident, said judging the city by its homicide rate is "stupid" and that Baltimore needs to do more to improve the quality of life for average residents.
Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said Locust Point and Federal Hill, where many of Under Armour's employees live, can expect to see new initiatives as a result of the money, including increased bike patrols.
In 2008, Target stores gave $300,000 to the Police Department to beef up security in West Baltimore around Mondawmin Mall, where the store had opened a new location.
"This is a call for other business to step up and say, 'What can I do in my district?'" Bealefeld said. "Mr. Plank loves Southern District cops, and he bankrolled this effort."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun