Police use of quotas denounced

Top official's statement apparently prompted by memo on arrests

August 03, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

A high-ranking Baltimore Police Department official has denounced the use of arrest quotas, a move apparently aimed at preventing orders such as the one recently issued in the Southwestern District.

The Sun reported Friday that three sergeants had ordered Southwestern District officers to make at least two arrests a week, among other activities. Deputy Commissioner Kenneth L. Blackwell issued a memo Friday afternoon stating that directives such as the one drafted by the sergeants must be approved by superiors before being distributed.

In a departmental policy statement, Blackwell said, "Situations and circumstances occur, no matter how good intentioned they may be, that are misinterpreted and(/)or imply that the department is fostering and condoning quotas to achieve our goals. The department does not condone the use of quotas."

The Southwestern District memo apparently was aimed at getting more productivity from officers, and its defenders say it was not meant to be interpreted as a call for quotas.

Critics, including local police union officials, said the directive was indicative of widespread, departmentwide pressure to produce better statistics. It included apparent weekly quotas for arrests, car stops, stop and frisks, parking tickets and other activities.

Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. said he urged police leaders to denounce quotas.

"We wanted to ensure public trust," he said. "We have a plan for fighting crime, and this memorandum by the police sergeants is not part of the crime-fighting strategy."

Mayor Martin O'Malley said he spoke to Commissioner Kevin P. Clark immediately after learning of the apparent quotas.

"It's just no way to do law enforcement," he said. "We set benchmarks for crime reduction, but we don't set quotas for arrest. We're not allowed" to do so.

Sun staff writer Doug Donovan contributed to this article.

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