Use Code BALT69 for a $69 Ticket to One Day University on July 9

Baltimore police seek contract for outside consultant

The Baltimore Police Department is planning to hire an outside consultant to develop a "three- to five-year strategic plan" to help streamline the agency and improve crime fighting, city documents show.

The consultant group that is awarded the contract will have 90 days to forward a report assessing organizational structure and various challenges facing the department. It will be asked to recommend staffing revisions, new tactics for investigations, and improved working conditions to aid in recruitment and morale, among other things, according to a request for proposals.

Since taking over four months ago, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts has been sizing up the agency and has met with academics from the area to identify key issues. Last year, the city's Fraternal Order of Police union released its own plan for the agency, which Batts says he has read.

"The commissioner has outlined the need for this since coming to Baltimore and part of his assessment is to solicit expert recommendations on how we can further maximize our effort to reduce crime in Baltimore," the department's chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, said of the planned study in an email.

Guglielmi said the city and state have agreed to split the eventual cost of the contract, which has not been made public.

Informed of the plan, City Councilman Bill Henry said he was encouraged by some of the details, including the approach to paying for the contract and limited time frame on the assessment.

"This is a logical follow-up to the idea that there are enough institutional concerns about the department that you needed to bring in someone from the outside to [be commissioner]," said Henry, a North Baltimore Democrat. "If that's your analysis of the department, then a comprehensive strategic evaluation makes sense."

When Batts was the police chief in Oakland, Calif., he also hired a consultant to develop a plan for that agency, hiring a former colleague named Scott Bryant whom he knew from his days in Long Beach. The report delivered a sobering message. "The current reality is not very positive," he wrote in a message that prefaced the report.

Oakland was "not a safe community — it is in fact among the least safe and most violent in the U.S.," it read. "The Oakland Police Department's management and service delivery systems are broken. The department is clearly under resourced given the level of crime in Oakland and demand for police services."

Nonetheless, he said that by 2015, it could be among the safest in California. Among other things, the 70-page report produced a new motto for the agency — "We will be there when you need us" — and identified "priority areas" for improvement. But Batts left the agency the next year.

Oakland, which has long struggled with reform, narrowly avoided a federal takeover last year, but agreed to hire a compliance director. Separately, the city has proposed a $250,000 contract with former Los Angeles and New York commissioner William Bratton for him and associates to help design and implement a crime-fighting strategy for the city, drawing protests.

The request for proposals on Baltimore's evaluation requires the consultant group to have conducted similar assessments for similar-sized police agencies in past three years. They must provide a monthly report and complete the assessment within 90 days of the contract being approved by the city's Board of Estimates.

The department cut ties last year with an outside consultant who was paid more than $600,000 to develop training programs for the agency. The consultant took no salary, but records showed that nearly 40 percent of his foundation's expenses were spent on meals, travel and entertainment. A martial-arts trainer also received $1.9 million to teach officers how to bring suspects under control without using excessive force.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad