It has been nearly a year since Baltimore’s police commissioner prohibited bar owners from hiring off-duty officers to help keep order, and in the weeks and months that followed the ban, some proprietors in the city’s Federal Hill area complained that nuisance crimes spiked, says the Baltimore Sun. In the spring, tavern owners banded together to form the Federal Hill Hospitality Association, and they’re contributing to a pool to hire six off-duty city officers to police the neighborhood during peak hours. It’s the reaction the commissioner wanted when he urged bar owners to take more responsibility but didn’t want his officers tethered to bars like private doormen.
The program is working, said the association’s president, Brian McComas, but it’s expensive – the officers cost about $100,000 a year – and only six of the popular nightlife district’s biggest bars are putting money into the fund. “We need to take responsibility for the people we bring to the neighborhood,” McComas said. Maj. Scott Bloodsworth, the local police commander, said this cooperative agreement is exactly what the department hoped to establish in lieu of allowing bar owners to directly hire officers. “In the past, they worked for a bar and leaned up against a bar wall,” the major said. “Now they’re under my supervision.”