Mayor Catherine Pugh said Tuesday that she supports legislation in the General Assembly to require about 50 Baltimore police commanders to live in the city.
The legislation in Annapolis — needed because the Baltimore Police Department is technically a state agency — is sponsored by state Sen. Cory McCray, a Baltimore Democrat. It would enable the mayor and City Council to require those at the rank of captain or above to live in Baltimore.
“We have no more important work than re-establishing trust between our police officers and residents of our city,” Pugh said in a statement endorsing the bill.
She added that her choice for police commissioner, former New Orleans chief Michael Harrison, shares her view. Harrison will start Feb. 11 as acting commissioner.
Just a handful of senior commanders live in the city, according to the addresses they provided when filing ethics disclosure forms with the city. Only 10 of 53 leaders, ranked captain or higher, in city salary records as of June 30 listed a city address. Filings for four officers were not available.
State Sen. Michael Hough, a Frederick County Republican, questioned whether the bill would hurt hiring.
“Policy-wise, why would you want to do that?” Hough asked. “Wouldn’t it be a disincentive? Isn’t the city having a hard time recruiting officers?”
Mayor Catherine Pugh’s pick for Baltimore’s next police commissioner was once a corrupt cop — but only as part of an undercover ruse. Michael Harrison, then a young police officer, helped the FBI take down real corrupt cops and a drug ring that was flooding cocaine into New Orleans.
City leaders have been seeking in recent years to encourage officers to live closer to the communities they patrol, hosting tours of neighborhoods and approving a $2,500 property tax credit in 2017.
The city has a new residency requirement for top City Hall officials that is similar to the one McCray has proposed for police leaders. It covers about 150 positions of supervisors who report directly to either the mayor or to an agency head and who are at-will employees.