The Washington-based Police Foundation recommended the city conduct "a rigorous evaluation" next to determine whether the program could be adopted in a cost-efficient, effective and transparent way. (Baltimore Sun video)
Over the past three years, more than 1,000 people have been murdered, tens of thousands have been shot and the situation in our city is only getting worse. The economic impact of this violent crime costs our city $3.6 billion per year, which is $6,300 for each resident. Crime is devastating our community. Add to this the distrust between the community and the police, and the situation is untenable.
We the people of Baltimore need to do something about this. We want our city back. We want to be able to work and raise our families in areas we feel safe and, unfortunately, right now that is not possible.
Rather than complain about it, we propose a solution. Bring back the Community Support Program. This program was tested by the Baltimore City Police Department two years ago and was very effective in helping to solve crime. During its short test, the program provided useful information on five murders and 18 shootings. Using aerial surveillance, the program provides valuable information as to what happened at crime scenes and where suspects came from and went to after crimes occur. It makes the ground-based CitiWatch cameras significantly more effective, extending their coverage to large uncovered parts of the city. It also provides unbiased information on potential police misconduct.
The Community Support Program was discontinued over the potential for misuse. After learning about the program, we feel with the protections and oversight in place to limit any potential abuse, the benefits of solving unsolvable crimes and deterring crime far outweigh any potential risks. The program’s 20 percent to 30 percent goal in the reduction in major crime represents 70-105 people not being murdered and hundreds not being shot — which simply outweigh the fear of possible misuse.
It is now up to us, the citizens of Baltimore. We have talked with many people, met with a range of community groups, spoken with many pastors, talked to the city chamber of commerce, met with City Council members and — with very few exceptions — the reaction to the Community Service Program has been very positive. The biggest question is why we are not already doing this (“Why should we trust Baltimore police with aerial surveillance technology?” Feb. 26).
Bottom line: We need to do something. We are rapidly losing people, jobs, and our children’s future. This can have a significant impact, not only on solving crime, but also on deterring crime and losing another generation to the streets. The time to act is now.