Michael Harrison, Acting Commissioner of the Baltimore City Police Department, addresses local leaders at a breakfast hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)
After only two weeks on the job, we are hearing the same types of comments from the Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison that we have been hearing for months about the problems at the Baltimore Police Department (“Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Harrison addresses city violence, panhandling at GBC meeting,” Feb. 25). And then there is his comment that “Baltimore requires an entire paradigm shift.” This is in reference to Baltimore and not just the police department. For those who may not be familiar with a paradigm shift, it is, according to the dictionary, a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions. Basically, we have to change the way we are doing things in Baltimore. Nothing new so far. And referring back to his time in New Orleans doesn’t really help Commissioner Harrison here in Baltimore.
Whenever you are faced with a serious problem, the easiest way to deal with it is to declare a paradigm shift in anything and everything. The military was famous for paradigm shifts. Another expression I suppose we will eventually hear is to “grasp the low-hanging fruit” which means do what you can accomplish now and seek the rest later. All sounds good but without the facts involved, it means nothing.
I agree with his statement that shootings are a better indicator than homicides of the level of violence. But I would also add armed robbery, muggings and, in general, all violent acts on people. Politicians always want to sugarcoat Baltimore and will adjust the statistics to make it look better. But an armed robbery committed with a knife is a violent act.
Sorry, he backed off on panhandling as that will only encourage the panhandlers, especially the window washers. That is against the law in Baltimore. The fact that something is not violent crime-related does not make it any less serious to the perceived victim.
So far I have not heard anything I did not know. Someone just taking over a new position that is critical to the city should not really be giving out comments to groups when he has not had enough time to really learn what is going on. Everybody wants to hear something new and fresh that will solve the problems and so far that is not forthcoming. Give him time to make his own plans and see where that leads.