Baltimore, Md., June 16, 2015 –
Working to protect the citizens of Baltimore while keeping officers safe has been at the forefront of every action taken by Police Commissioner Batts since September of 2012. Policy changes, equipment, new vehicles, implementing national best practices in operational and administrative procedures have been at the forefront of reform initiated by the Police Commissioner. Reform is a process that takes time and the unprecedented civil unrest at the end of April 2015 highlighted areas of concern. Since those days the agency has moved quickly not only to address equipment and training concerns, also to rebuild bridges with communities and look for areas to improve moving forward.
That is why there is confusion over the press release issued by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 on June 16, 2015. The allegations in the release are both inaccurate and in some cases blatantly false and misleading. In a conversation with President Gene Ryan, the Baltimore Police Department’s Chief of Legal Affairs assured Mr. Ryan that by week’s end they hoped to be able to turn over the requested information. Mr. Ryan had no objection to that date. The assertion that “… [Commissioner Batts] has done nothing to investigate protocol shortcomings and better prepare our officers” is at best an attempt to mislead and at worst a direct contradiction of known facts.
In a May 27, 2015 email to Police Commissioner Batts, FOP Lodge 3 President Gene Ryan said:
“Please let me begin by thanking you for attending last night’s membership meeting at the Lodge. Your appearance, in the face of so much animosity, was very courageous and I know well that your remarks were heartfelt. We are certain that you sincerely want the input of our officers and members in any discussion relative to the BPD response to the riots. Having said that, allow me to also thank you for the invitation to participate in the discussion with Chuck Wexler from PERF:…”
It was in this May 27th email that the official request was made for the information mentioned in the aforementioned press release:
“…however, in order for us to contribute to any informed conversation we will require access to the following, beforehand.
1. All communication tapes (on all pertinent channels) throughout the crisis
2. All Command level text messages
3. All Watch Center logs
4. Any After Action reports generated to date
5. Any equipment that was ordered during the crisis and on which dates
Also, we will need answers to the following questions:
1. By what authority were the BPD legal advisors allowed to give criminal legal advice during this civil crisis?
2. After the events in Ferguson, MO, what planning for a similar situation in Baltimore was undertaken and what documents were produced from that planning?
3. Are there any future plans to allow commanders to determine arrest actions instead of Legal Affairs?
And, lastly, we would like any legal advisors who determined arrest action, or lack thereof, to also participate in this meeting as they were, apparently, the final command authority.
Thank you, in advance, for your continuing cooperation.
Baltimore City FOP, Lodge #3
The statement is derisive and FOP Lodge 3 should immediately withdraw the remark.
In the weeks since the civil unrest the Baltimore Police Department has taken the following steps to address membership concerns, work to improve the safety and working conditions for officers, all while rebuilding community ties and engaging in the crime fight. A look at some of the steps taken by the Baltimore Police Department include:
1. An immediate post-incident conversation with Command Staff to develop a list of needs for both training and equipment moving forward.
2. Preparing for a Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management After-Action Review to be held at the end of June.
3. PERF (Police Executive Research Forum) facilitated conversations between officers and command to engage in a lessons learned conversation.
4. The Police Commissioner pulled members of the Western District offline for a Western District retreat with command for a listen and learn session.
5. The organization brought in Critical Incident Stress Teams to all of the districts for several days to provide counseling for officers.
6. Civil Disturbance training has been ongoing at the Professional Development Training Academy. While not as many officers have been sent as requested, the training is ongoing and will continue.
7. Currently, more than 20 hours of radio transmissions are being transcribed for release.
8. Hundreds of documents are being reviewed for release.
9. The department continues to purchase more than $2,000,000 worth of equipment with the Mayor’s approval and issue the new equipment to better equip officers.
10. Mobile Field Force training is being conducted to better prepare officers.
11. The BPD brought in seven Police Chiefs from across the country to advise on national best practice steps moving forward.
Perhaps most importantly, and consistent with the Police Commissioner’s ongoing mission of transparency, the International Association of Chiefs of Police was contacted on May 22, 2015 and asked to begin an outside, independent review of the civil unrest and the department’s response. The department made the request five days before FOP Lodge 3 asked the BPD for any information. The International Association of Chiefs of Police will author the official review of the incident in a non-biased nonpolitical way for policy review as well as actions and circumstances.
There is no desire on behalf of the Baltimore Police Department to engage in a “war of words” with FOP Lodge 3. The president has been a steadfast advocate for his officers and has been extremely helpful in difficult circumstances. The responsibility of the union is wages and working conditions, not day-to-day operations. The input of the membership is critical; however, in this case, we know that President Ryan is following the direction of a hired public relations firm. A long-term relationship is more important than a consultant’s direction of the men and women of the police department. Their use of the police department as a political tool or powerbase is unethical at best. Which is why the department will not ignore inaccurate and misleading statements that take away from the work done by officers in the Training Academy and other units within the agency. These officers are working hard to better equip and better train their brothers and sisters in law enforcement. The organization will do all it can to support them. Their actions make the department better able to engage in the crime fight, better equipped to keep neighborhoods safe and better trained to be partners with the people we serve, the citizens of Baltimore.