City/county Digest

CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

May 31, 2006

Councilman says city police forced to meet arrest quota

Baltimore City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. sent a memo yesterday to the city Police Department alleging that officers are being forced to increase arrests, especially for nuisance crimes.

"Over the past several weeks, my office has received an unusual amount of complaints from citizens in regards to your agency's policy on arrest," Harris wrote to Deputy Commissioner Marcus Brown. "It has been brought to my attention that officers are being forced to make quota [arrests], and are being penalized if arrest stats are not high."

Harris said he has spoken to Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy and that she shares his concerns. Harris also said that officers have complained to him that they "are being forced to increase arrests versus focusing on the quality of arrest."

Police spokesman Matt Jablow said Brown has not had an opportunity to review the memo, but that he will discuss Harris' concerns with the councilman. Jablow said arrests are down 9.6 percent this year compared with the first five months of 2005. He said Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm has made it one of his top priorities to improve the quality of arrests, not the number of arrests.

"We're clearly arresting fewer people than we did last year," Jablow said.

Harris called for a meeting to answer some of the questions he raised in the memo, such as: "What is the standard for arresting someone for spitting, having an open container, loitering or trespassing to name a few? What is the standard for a citizen to be stopped and frisked?"

Doug Donovan

Baltimore: Seniors

Health and fitness event to be held

A National Senior Health and Fitness Day will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. today at Waxter Senior Center, 1000 Cathedral St. The event - sponsored by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks and the Commission on Aging and Retirement Education - will include low-impact aerobics, nutritional bingo, trivia games, line-dancing, lunch and health screenings. The activities are free, and free group transportation is planned from designated senior sites across the city. Information: 410-396-2920.

Board of Estimates

City poised to hire pension consultant

Baltimore's Board of Estimates is scheduled today to authorize spending $14,000 to hire a consultant to help the city's pension system establish guidelines for expenses.

The seven-member pension board has been criticized recently by Mayor Martin O'Malley and City Council members for traveling overseas to attend educational conferences.

The pension board "has resolved to establish a Guidelines Committee that would review its current Education and Expense Policy in the context of the best practices adopted by other pension funds," states the Board of Estimates agenda for today's meeting.

The mayor's law department has requested that Groom Law Group of Washington be hired to assist the pension board.

Doug Donovan

Downtown

Lunch and Leisure hour to start today

The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks is starting a Wednesday Lunch and Leisure hour that will include a picnic and free lemonade and popcorn at War Memorial Plaza. The first event will be from noon to 1 p.m. today and will include live Dixieland music and lawn games. The event will be held every other Wednesday until Aug. 23.

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