The Baltimore police union's criticism of Commissioner Michael Harrison's crime plan is wholly unproductive.
Here we go again. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 is flinging insults at Baltimore’s Police Commissioner. This time the union that represents the city’s rank-and-file cops has problems with Michael Harrison’s crime plan — calling it untenable.
It is the latest in a string of public chastisements and scoldings by the union about every decision Mr. Harrison has made to try to turn around the department since taking the top job in February. The tauntings are unproductive and almost cliche. If the FOP doesn’t want to contribute anything helpful to the conversation, perhaps they should take a seat and be quiet.
Constantly picking fights does absolutely nothing to solve the murders or stop crime in the city, and is nothing more than annoying background noise.
We welcome constructive criticism from anyone, but not continuously throwing out verbal Molotov cocktails.
“The current deployment of Patrol Officers will not be able to, under any circumstances, implement the new crime plan as intended,” FOP President Sgt. Mike Mancuso wrote in a letter critical of the plan.
Seriously, Mr. Mancuso? Not under any circumstances? Are you gunning for failure? That is certainly what it sounds like if you are implying that your members can do nothing to implement the crime strategy.
We get that the department is not operating up to capacity at this time. Yes, Mr. Mancuso, you are correct that the department is down 500 officers and needs updated technology. Mr. Harrison has made this point himself on several occasions (including in his crime plan, in detail). Does that mean that officers should stop doing their jobs? We don’t think so.
Not to mention that Mr. Harris is working to address these staff shortages with a major recruitment effort and has pushed for state funding for new technology. Maybe it is Gov. Larry Hogan that Mr. Mancuso should be upset with. After all, he is the one who threw funding for technology upgrades into doubt when he refused to spend the money the legislature carved out for it. (He says he’ll find the money elsewhere, but we’ll see.)
No, the department is not as “flush with resources” as Mr. Mancuso would like, but that shouldn’t paralyze it. Mr. Harrison has managed to work around the resource problems by leveraging partnerships with the federal government, for one. Federal prosecutors announced Thursday they had indicted 90 people on gun and drugs charges in Baltimore in the last month. They confiscated drugs, cash and guns in a operation targeted at violent drug crews. Making it work involved the cooperation of local law enforcement. That, Mr. Mancuso, is looking for solutions rather than just crying about problems.
Council President Brandon Scott has offered to act as a mediator between both sides. We’d suggest Mr. Mancuso take the offer, except that he hasn’t even accepted the invitation of the commissioner to meet to talk about the crime plan. It is far easier to criticize the commissioner from afar, we suppose. If they actually worked together on a plan, the FOP would have no ammunition for their attacks.
It hasn’t always been this way. A few years ago, the FOP put out its own plan for improving the department, a thoughtful and constructive document that actually suggested better support and training, not more officers, was the right path forward. But that was a couple of FOP presidents ago.
At the end of the day, the commissioner and the FOP should have the same goal, that of reducing crime. The opposition by the FOP is dangerous to the department and counterproductive to that goal. A public battle makes the department look dysfunctional and gives the criminals an upper hand.
The FOP needs to do a better job at making amends and extending an olive branch. Stop complaining about the consent decree. It exists. The department must comply. Stop acting like there are no bad cops. Most cops just want to do their jobs, but there are bad ones. Offer up some solutions rather than being a naysayer.
The crime problems in the city are generational, complicated and incessant. They will take time to fix. Mr. Harrison (who was quite happy in New Orleans, we should remind people) has a plan we hope will work. Only time will tell. We will judge him when the time comes.