City Council questions Norris about crime, minority hires

April 23, 2002|By Caitlin Francke and Del Quentin Wilber | Caitlin Francke and Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

City Council members questioned Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris for two hours last night on issues ranging from crime-fighting to minority hiring.

At a biannual review of Norris' department, council members wanted to know how it is treating minority officers, responding to the recent spike in homicides and managing overtime costs.

Councilwoman Agnes Welch, a West Baltimore Democrat, complained that although Norris' department reported declines in crime, that was not being felt in the neighborhoods.

"They might say it's down, but the drug dealer is back in force," Welch said. "The people have no relief."

Norris responded to Welch and a similar question from Councilwoman Lois A. Garey, a 1st District Democrat, by saying that the department has made strides toward cutting crime.

"We've got a real long ways to go," Norris also told them.

Norris presented a long list of accomplishments. He said 3,831 fewer violent crimes were committed last year than two years ago, noting in particular reductions in homicides and nonfatal shootings.

He said the department has increased minority hiring, bringing the percentage of minority officers from 45.6 percent in 1999 to 48.5 percent last year.

Minority promotions have also increased, he said. In 1999, 17 percent of lieutenants were minorities and last year, that percentage rose to 20.5 percent, or 25 out of 122.

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