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Baltimore’s standards for police officers are shifting - in the wrong direction

Baltimore police officers face recruitment challenge - more applicants but more attrition, too.
Baltimore police officers face recruitment challenge - more applicants but more attrition, too. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun)

Apparently, things are looking up for the Baltimore Police Department as far as new applicants go (“Baltimore Police applications spike during ‘Comeback’-themed campaign, but attrition still outpacing hiring,” Oct. 9).

In this lengthy article, it is mentioned that there are standards for being hired. I came on the department in 1962 (I believe we had 3,600 officers at that time). At that time, a moving traffic violation was sufficient to disqualify an applicant. At the time of my retirement, some 24 years ago, the agency was already accepting applicants who had some drug use in their backgrounds. I would imagine that in the 24 years since my retirement that the standards may have been modified yet again. Exactly what are those hiring standards today?

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The Sun should call on Police Commissioner Michael Harrison to release those standards for public consumption. Also, without identifying specific persons, the department should also release the standards under which the recently imprisoned city police officers were hired, as well as the results of their background investigations.

In addition, the article refers to an effort to reduce the administrative burden upon the officers who are working the street, which conflicts with a federal consent decree that requires more, not less, administrative burden upon the line officers. That consent decree is worthless and an impediment to good police work. It should be scrapped for the garbage that it is. The commissioner should know that.

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When I came on, I believe that the starting salary was $4,848. We had no walkie-talkies, we had no riot helmets or shields, we had no bullet-proof vests. Most of us were on foot. We had no communication other then the call boxes that were strewn about, or the banging of our nightsticks on the pavement to alert our side partners. With the coming of Donald D. Pomerleau we eventually got that equipment, as well as a significant raise in salary.

What the city needs now, is another Commissioner Pomerleau and good luck finding that individual. The citizens of Baltimore and their representatives in City Hall want police, but they want a “hands off” approach toward policing and that will never work.

Bob Di Stefano, Abingdon

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