Baltimore’s mayor and police chief promised yesterday to hire 450 new officers by the end of next year, an accelerated recruitment drive aimed at eliminating a personnel shortage just as the city is making headway on reducing crime, the Baltimore Sun reports. Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld warned that an unexpected number of officers quit or retired in June, leaving his 3,119-member department short 106 officers. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the police agency will hire more consultants to screen applicants and conduct background checks on more than 120 applicants who are waiting to hear if they’ve been accepted for training.
The mayor said there is enough money to fund five or six classes with 40 to 60 recruits each next year, enough to hire 350 officers in 2011. In addition, one class has already graduated this year, another begins today and a third is scheduled for fall, which could bring the number of officers hired this year to about 100. Rawlings-Blake said she worked to avoid laying off police officers as she raised taxes and fees to overcome a $121 million deficit, and now she wants to make sure the Police Department can fill all its budgeted positions.