Baltimore police commissioner says video appearing to show officer asleep on job 'raises serious concerns'

Baltimore police Commissioner Michael Harrison said he is “troubled” by a video that appears to show an officer asleep in his patrol car.

The video, posted Saturday morning to Instagram, appears to show a uniformed officer sleeping in the front seat of a marked vehicle, which has headlights and flashing police lights on. The car is shown parked near the intersection of North Mount and West Saratoga streets.

In a statement, Harrison said, “It raises serious concerns about public safety, officer health and wellness, and officer performance.”

The president of the police union, Baltimore police Sgt. Michael Mancuso, said he had not seen the video, which has since been removed, but said about 20 percent of officers are working on overtime shifts at any given time.

“We have a very fatigued department,” Mancuso said. “And when you have a fatigued department like this, people … make more mistakes.”

A recent change to shift schedules, as mandated in the union’s revised contract with the city, had done nothing to improve overwork, Mancuso said. Officer attrition is a problem, as is recruitment.

Mancuso suggested that the Baltimore Police Department needs several hundred more officers in order to operate successfully.

“We’re 300 police officers short of being able to do what we need to do,” he said.

The incident appeared to be the latest example of embarrassing conduct by Baltimore police officers.

In October, an on-duty officer was fired after being found intoxicated and slumped over in his patrol vehicle.

In August, a police supervisor was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace and failure to obey at a strip club on the Block.

In another instance, an officer was video-recorded declining to take action on a citizen report of a man with a gun downtown.

Then a sergeant was charged with getting into a drunken-driving crash while driving a department vehicle.

In August an officer was caught on tape punching a man and eventually indicted on first-degree assault charges. Another officer was charged with assault in July in relation to an incident from two years prior.

Since his arrival in Baltimore, Harrison, who was confirmed by the City Council earlier this month, has expressed enthusiasm for reforming the department according to the terms the city’s consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, as he did while heading the police department in New Orleans.

“We have high hopes” for Harrison’s tenure, Mancuso said. “We’re here to work with him. But these officers need to be taken care of.”

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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