Police official denies use of arrest quotas

Deputy commissioner Brown responds to accusations by city councilman

June 06, 2006|By NICOLE FULLER | NICOLE FULLER,SUN REPORTER

A top Baltimore police official yesterday disputed accusations made by a city councilman that officers are being forced to make more arrests as part of a department-wide arrest quota system.

"The department does not operate under an arrest quota system," Deputy Commissioner Marcus Brown wrote in a letter to City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. "It operates under a crime reduction system."

Harris sent a memo late last month to Brown, alleging that officers have complained to him that they "are being forced to increase arrests versus focusing on the quality of arrest."

He also said many of his constituents have complained about the lack of a definitive arrest policy, particularly for nuisance crimes.

"An arrest is often required to get people who are urinating in other people's yards or drinking on their steps to stop," Brown wrote. "I am quite sure that is what you would expect if that ever happened at your house.

"I should mention that several of your fellow city council members have contacted me this week to say that if you did not want police to enforce quality of life crimes in your district, they would be glad to have the added enforcement in theirs. Obviously, we would never do that because your constituents are asking for our help, and we intend to give it to them," Brown wrote.

"This is a childish response to a serious issue," Harris said yesterday, adding that he was puzzled by Brown's written statements.

Harris called for an investigation into the department's arrest policy at last night's City Council meeting.

"My job is to ask question and get answers when citizens bring concerns to me," Harris said. "I did my homework. I just don't throw stuff against the wall."

Brown said arrests are down nearly 10 percent from last year.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Doug Donovan contributed to this article.

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