Baltimore housing authority police force seeks reaccreditation

May 21, 2001|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

The Housing Authority of Baltimore City Police Force is being evaluated by a national association of law enforcement agencies as part of the authority's efforts to retain its accreditation.

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies sent a team of assessors during the weekend to examine the housing police's operations, management, policies and support services for three days.

The housing authority's force, which polices Baltimore's public housing, was accredited for a standard three-year period by CALEA in 1997, and is seeking reaccreditation under an extension granted by the association.

CALEA's Web site suggests that accreditation is supposed to improve law enforcement by providing standards. For the housing police, the accreditation has added importance because it is tied to federal funding.

Housing police Chief Hezekiah Bunch lobbied CALEA officials this year for the extension, which was necessary because the authority was not in compliance with some of the organization's mandatory standards, a number of which are technical in nature.

The agency, whose officers have the same training and authority as the Baltimore police officers, was at risk of being swallowed by the city police force last year.

A measure in the General Assembly to merge the agencies, which was supported by Mayor Martin O'Malley, was shelved in part because of funding concerns. The federal government pays for the housing police from national public housing funds, and it was unclear whether it would continue to pay for the housing officers if they became part of the city force.

As part of the CALEA examination process, a public hearing to discuss the housing police is scheduled for 7 p.m. at 312 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Room 234.

Those who cannot attend but want to comment may call 410- 545-6314 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. tomorrow.

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