Police Department orders majors to work 8-hour street patrol shifts

November 06, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Police Department is ordering majors to pick up patrol shifts on the street to ensure that high-ranking department personnel are available 24 hours a day to respond to significant crimes.

The first patrol started last night when Maj. Michael Bass climbed into a marked patrol car. Twenty-eight majors will rotate through eight-hour shifts, which will involve reponding to crimes and inspecting district stations.

Col. Bert Shirey, acting police commissioner, said it will ensure that a major is available to respond to incidents and that officers are doing their jobs properly.

Significant crimes typically get a heavy response from police, often with lieutenants as the on-scene commander. It is not unusual to see colonels back up officers on routine calls or for them to show up at other incidents. But they are not always available.

"In too many cases, district commanders had to be called in from home," Shirey said. "We would have felt more comfortable had we had an immediate command response."

Shirey said there is not one incident that sparked the decision, but he noted last month's police shooting of Larry Hubbard Jr., which triggered a community uproar. "The district commander eventually came," Shirey said. "Colonels eventually came."

The policy is not new. The practice was disbanded in 1994, and the next commissioner could stop the practice again.

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