Project #1

Recruiting & hiring the next generation of police officers in Baltimore

 
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Our public report is coming soon!

partner:

Baltimore City Police Department (BPD)


Challenge: 

Baltimore faces a violent crime challenge. One factor that hinders violence reduction efforts is the size of the BPD. There are 18% fewer officers at the BPD than in 2009 and the department is the smallest it has been in at least the past 17 years. The BPD is often forced to deploy too few patrol officers to meet its staffing needs in districts. As a result, many officers are drafted into overtime, which can harm morale and effectiveness.

In addition to quantity, quality of officers is also a concern. After a 2016 U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) report found that the BPD routinely violated the constitutional rights of Baltimore residents, the 2017 Consent Decree between Baltimore and the DOJ said the BPD needs to have officers who are “community policing and problem-solving oriented”. In response to these challenges, Mayor Pugh asked the i-team to help BPD address its staffing issues to ensure the BPD has enough and the right officers to police constitutionally and deliver public safety for all Baltimore residents.


Key findings:

The i-team has conducted extensive quantitative and qualitative research. Our findings, which will be detailed in an upcoming report, include:

  • Baltimore community members and police officers want the same things in police officers: honesty and integrity, strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence and a commitment to public service.
  • The main driver of the decline in the number of BPD officers since 2014 is a significant reduction in applications. Having fewer applicants is a challenge for police departments across the country, not just in Baltimore.
  • Negative community feelings about the department make recruiting locally a challenge, however a number of opportunities to improve the community/police relationship and cultivate “homegrown” officers do exist.
  • The BPD hiring process is not assessing candidates for the traits community and officers believe are most important and may eliminate candidates for less valued reasons.

how we're addressing it:

A few of the initiatives that the i-team has supported or is exploring include:

Recruitment:

  • The BPD and the i-team is working with partners to develop marketing materials that are better aligned to the motivations of potential candidates.
  • The i-team is seeking to create a campaign to encourage Baltimore community groups to nominate their “local heroes” to apply to become BPD officers.

Hiring:

  • Candidates for the BPD can now submit their applications online, which has increased the number of applicants since this launched in June 2018.

  • The BPD has been making its selection process more convenient for applicants by, for instance, offering assessments such as the civil service and physical agility tests at more convenient times.

  • The i-team has worked with the BPD to create a fitness bootcamp to help applicants train for the BPD’s physical agility test.
 
 
  Boys in West Baltimore explaining how the relationship between police and youth could be improved: most ideas included eating food together, playing sports together and having officers help them with bullying.

Boys in West Baltimore explaining how the relationship between police and youth could be improved: most ideas included eating food together, playing sports together and having officers help them with bullying.

  Baltimore officers voting on the qualities they think are most important to have as a Baltimore police officer.

Baltimore officers voting on the qualities they think are most important to have as a Baltimore police officer.

  To understand the current BPD hiring experience, the i-team spoke with current and former applicants to the BPD and went through the process as secret shoppers: Tamika (above) participated in the Physical Agility Test and Emily took the Civil Service Exam.

To understand the current BPD hiring experience, the i-team spoke with current and former applicants to the BPD and went through the process as secret shoppers: Tamika (above) participated in the Physical Agility Test and Emily took the Civil Service Exam.