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$275,000 not too much for Baltimore police commissioner if held accountable

Michael S. Harrison talks about what the city of Baltimore can expect from him as the next police commissioner.

The amount of $275,000 per year has been mentioned as the potential salary for the next police commissioner in Baltimore (“Proposed $275,000 salary for Baltimore police commissioner pick would be significant bump from recent chiefs,” Feb. 5). That not only sounds like, but actually is, a very significant number. To put it simply, that is a whole lot of money.

But take that in context. The next commissioner needs to restore integrity to the agency; reorganize it to maximize effectiveness while reducing some costs, fill its existing vacancies to full and effective strength, reduce the violence which results in far too many people being killed in the streets, re-earn the trust of the law abiding citizens, placate the fears of the city’s clergy, build a true working relationship with the mayor and the administration and effectively continue to implement the consent decree. If he can do this all while changing the seemingly prevalent attitude among too many of the city’s residents of “hands off” policing, or “we want police, we just don’t want them to ‘bother' anyone,” if he or she can manage to do all of that, he or she would be well worth every penny of that $275,000.

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I would suggest, that with the recent rate of turnover at that position, that a new approach be made with the next person hired. The next commissioner should be held accountable to reach certain goals, or landmarks, in a specific amount of time. The goals should be realistic, and constructed with the participation of the new commissioner and he or she should agree to them. For example, a goal could be a reduction in homicides of 30 percent within two years, achieving full staffing of patrol within three years, reducing overtime by x percent in y number of years, full implementation of the consent decree in x number of years. In other words, establishing mutually agreed upon goals for performance, and holding the commissioner accountable for either achieving those goals on time, or explaining (to the administration and the citizens) why that was not possible.

In any case, the next commissioner will have his or her hands very full, with a very full plate of problems to address and correct. I suggest that everyone pray for that person, prayer seems to help.

Robert Di Stefano, Abingdon

The writer is a retired major with the Baltimore City Police Department Major

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