Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced five major staff changes Thursday, including moving the major in charge of homicide to oversee the “high priority” recruitment section.
Maj. Chris Jones, who has headed the homicide unit since 2016, is being reassigned to run the recruitment unit, which had lacked a permanent leader amid crushing shortages of officers.
“Nothing is more important for the Department than reducing violent crime in the city and recruiting more officers to the job, and I am confident these moves will help us achieve both of those goals,” Commissioner Harrison said in a statement.
Harrison has identified recruitment as a top priority as attrition has outpaced hiring in recent years. A marketing campaign launched earlier this year has sharply increased the number of applicants, but Harrison said it has yet to result in substantially more hires. Many law enforcement agencies across the country have struggled to attract new candidates. Baltimore has hired 128 officers so far this year, and it will likely not meet its goal of hiring 300 by the end of the year.
“Recruitment is an incredibly high priority,” police spokesman Matt Jablow said. “We need somebody really strong, like Chris, in that position.”
Recruitment had been headed previously by Maj. Brian Hance, who was suspended earlier this year. The department has refused to say why he was suspended, and Jablow did not respond Thursday to questions about Hance’s current status.
Maj. Stephen Hohman, who headed the special investigations section, will assume command of a combined homicide and robbery unit. Jablow said the decision was made after many of the robbery detectives were moved out of headquarters and into the districts, meaning fewer detectives were assigned to the citywide robbery unit.
Maj. Latonya Lewis of the communications section will take Hohman’s role with special investigations.
Maj. Tomecha Brown, the commander of the Southeast District, will become a night-watch commander. Maj. Milton Snead of citywide robbery will take Brown’s post at the Southeast District.
Harrison also promoted six lieutenants to captains, four of whom will be assigned to districts, one assigned to the communications section and one to the Public Integrity Bureau, which includes internal affairs.