2 on City Council say police data point to quotas

Department denies arrest requirements

June 22, 2006|By GUS G. SENTEMENTES | GUS G. SENTEMENTES,SUN REPORTER

Two City Council members said yesterday that they believe two internal Baltimore police statistical documents offer further evidence that the department is requiring officers to meet arrest quotas, an assertion vehemently denied by top police officials.

"There's an awful lot of concerns from police officers who have brought to my attention that they're under a quantitative measurement as opposed to a qualitative measurement to do their jobs," Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. said. "It gives the appearance of a quota system."

Councilwoman Helen L. Holton said the documents and her conversations with several police officers have led her to believe that officers are under intense pressure to make arrests this year.

The documents, obtained by The Sun, are bar charts of arrest statistics broken down by shift commander in each of the city's nine police districts. Police officials said the statistics are among a wide range of enforcement, arrest and crime numbers - typically hundreds of pages long - that are compiled and reviewed every week at high-level staff meetings known as Comstat.

The documents show that the number of arrests ranged from as low as 48 to as high as 277 on specific shifts during an unspecified 28-day period this year. Broken down for a seven-day period, arrests ranged as low as two for officers working under one lieutenant to as high at 66 for another.

On both pages, a straight, horizontal line is drawn across the bars that signifies arrests on each commander's shift in every district. For the seven-day chart, the line is drawn just below the 40-arrests mark. For the 28-day chart, the line is just below 150.

Matt Jablow, a police spokesman, said the line indicates the average of all arrests in the nine districts. He said it is not a random benchmark that shift commanders and their officers have to meet.

"This is part of our voluminous weekly [statistics] package," Jablow said. "And arrests are one way, one way, that we track the performance of supervisors and officers. ... If reporters ask for it, we give it to you. There's nothing mysterious or secretive about this.

"We don't apologize for the fact that we keep track of arrests," Jablow continued. "What would people think if we didn't keep track of arrests? In no way does this mean there are quotas in the Baltimore Police Department."

Last year, the City Council released a report, after months of study, concluding that the Police Department was not operating under a quota system. But there has been renewed speculation about it this year.

Harris and Holton said they have not spoken with any top official within the department who could explain the charts to them.

Holton, who said she has received complaints from at least 10 officers about the pressure to make arrests, said that she believes there is no specific number of arrests that the rank-and-file are expected to meet.

"They're told to make more arrests, they're not told hard numbers," Holton said.

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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