Police shortage: Baltimore hires civilian investigators

The Baltimore Police Department is planning to be one of the first law enforcement agencies in the United States to hire civilians as investigators in its detective force as the force continues to face shortages. personnel amid an increase in homicides and shootings.

Mayor Brandon Scott and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced on Wednesday that under the plan, the city will hire civilian investigators to focus on low-profile property crimes, cold cases, background checks, intelligence gathering and internal affairs. set.

New civilization classification, included in the city’s proposed $4 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, will build additional capacity for employees to “maximize the effectiveness of limited resources,” according to the city.

Baltimore’s plan comes as a number of police departments in cities around the country have warned about current and future staffing levels, citing COVID-19, the high rate of resignations, Low wages, a law enforcement environment, and local reform efforts are making recruitment and retention difficult.

The plan is cost-neutral, Harrison told CNN, because the city will convert 30 sworn officer positions that are currently vacant into 35 civilian positions with starting salaries of $49,000. Police officers in Baltimore have a starting salary of $60,000, the highest in the state of Maryland, according to the mayor.

Nine civilian positions will be dedicated to supporting the mayor’s Group Violence Reduction Strategy and 12 civilian support positions will enhance capacity at the department’s Telephone Reporting Unit.

The hiring of civilian investigators is “directly tied” to the department’s current struggle with recruiting and retaining police officers, Harrison said. The agency is currently short of more than 350 positions, he added.

“This plan is not about stripping the jobs of sworn members of the department. It’s about growing the department and creating more civilian capacity while being smart about how we deploy officers. “, said Harrison. “We are adjusting our staffing plans and budgets to bring qualified professional personnel to work alongside our officers to effectively prevent, stop and reduce crime. than.”

The Phoenix Police Department in March announced a similar plan, which includes hiring 25 civilian investigators and eight staff members for its already active team of police assistants.


Baltimore, like many other cities across the nation, has experienced an increase in violent crime since the outbreak of the pandemic. The city has recorded 96 homicides and 193 non-fatal shootings since the start of this year, up from 88 homicides and 160 non-fatal shootings recorded during the same period in 2021, according to data data of the city.

“This is an opportunity for us to develop our policy, focusing our sworn police officers on the violent men who are using guns to kill women, children, grandparents on their streets. me and focus on removing them from the community,” Mayor Scott told CNN in an interview.

As part of the proposal, civilians would only assist with investigations of murders or other violent crimes if they are classified as cold cases by the police department.

“This is really helping us become a more 21st century police department,” said Scott. “This will help us in the short term, but also in the long run as we’re building those relationships, freeing up hours and hours of patrols for our officers to do their jobs. what we want them to do, while also providing other jobs and opportunities and then a new step into our department.”

Harrison said the department will design a training program to identify the needs of inexperienced applicants and those who are veteran, highly experienced investigators.

“We want to speed people up to make sure they’re compliant with state law, with department policy, how we do things governed by the Baltimore consent policy and decree, before we hire.” and send them to investigate,” – Harrison said.

The city of Baltimore has been following a federal consent decree since 2017 requiring systemic reform of its police department after the Justice Department ordered a civil rights investigation that revealed a “pattern or practice”. unconstitutional conduct”, including excessive force and racist prejudiced arrests.

Harrison said he anticipates that the positions, which are expected to be filled by the end of May, will attract former police officers of different ranks from different departments who will be applying for leave. retired or added to another role.

Candidates will be screened through a background check and are required to complete a training program at least one month before they are assigned to a section.

“We’re looking for people with some law enforcement or investigative experience,” he said. “Not all investigators work in law enforcement but [they] certainly know how to conduct investigations. “

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