Baltimore City Council President Young questions Commissioner Batts's approach to crime fighting

BALTIMORE - On Monday members of City Council had tough questions for the head of the Baltimore City Police Department.

After more than a year on the job, last week Commissioner Anthony Batts unveiled his consultant-driven plan for better policing in the city.

As we approach the final month of 2013, there have been more murders and more non-fatal shootings in Baltimore City than there were at this time in 2012, which also saw an increase over 2011.

The answers, according to Batts, are contained in a report titled "A Safer Baltimore" that was unveiled with much fanfare last week.

Absent from that news conference was Baltimore City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young.

"This report in my estimation is something that we could have done in house for the money that we spent," he said during a meeting of the Council's Public Safety Committee.  "I don't want to see any more consultants any more plans I want our bright kinds that we have in our police department to get to work."

The commissioner says that's what the report does.

"Part of what I wanted to do is just not take information, but I wanted empirical data," he said.

The report does include data on how, where and when officers are deployed, compared with when crimes happen.

"We think that changing the schedule will be an important factor in improving the performance of patrol. And that's what we're working on now and this is the culmination of it," said Peter Bellmio, a law enforcement consultant.

The commissioner cautioned that that would take negotiations with the police union.

Council members requested more officers on foot patrol; the commissioner said that's already happening.

"I want to see more walking beats and most of the council people said that to me that's where we have increased almost 60, 70 officers," he said.  "That's the mandate you put out to me, I made that happen."

And he did it, before that consultant's report came back -- at a cost of nearly $300-thousand.

"We pay all these consultants to come in here to tell is what we brought him in here to do," Young said.

City police said although homicides are up, so is their clearance rate -- 54 percent of murders have been solved so far this year.  That would be an increase from last year if it continues through December.

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