Baltimore police cruisers

Baltimore police officers feel overburdened and under-supported in part due to scrutiny following a federal consent decree, though many still consider it an honor to serve the city and its residents, a new report by the Crime and Justice Institute found.

The report, Findings from the Field: A Summary of Focus Groups with Baltimore Police Officers, is based on focus groups with 68 officers, including patrol officers, detectives, sergeants, and lieutenants. Officers raised concerns during the focus groups including low morale, strained community relations following riots in 2015, confusion about what the consent decree requires, and anxiety that any use of force – even appropriate force – will lead to them being punished or possibly fired.

CJI prepared the report for the Baltimore Police Department Monitoring Team, the body overseeing the department’s efforts to comply with the terms of the consent decree the city entered into with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2017. The decree stems from the DOJ’s finding that Baltimore police displayed a pattern of conduct that violated civilians’ Constitutional rights, and it outlines corrective steps the department must now take.

Officers also suggested strategies to boost morale, including better communication from command staff, recognition for exceptional work, and changes to the way officers are deployed around the city.

Officers said that the best parts of their job are helping city residents during difficult situations, positively impacting people’s lives, and protecting public safety.

Click here to read the report.

Click here to read coverage in the Baltimore Sun.