Big surprise (not). Baltimore is having trouble hiring police officers

Just once I would like to have you open up a post about the City of Baltimore here at Hot Air and discover that it was some wonderful news about how people are thriving and peaceful prosperity is on the rise. Sadly, today is still not that day. The latest headline to catch my attention coming out of Charm City is from the local CBS outlet there and it once again has to do with the Baltimore Police Department. But unlike past cases where they were being blamed for this or that episode of bad behavior by City Hall, this one reveals that there simply aren’t enough cops working in the city. And the problem isn’t the budget… they just can’t find enough people to take the available law enforcement jobs.

There’s growing concern over a shortage of police officers in Baltimore City. Despite ramping up recruiting efforts, there’s still big turnover in the department.

For only the second time in the last two decades, Baltimore hits 100 homicides before the end of April…

The number of officers is at its lowest point that it’s been in the past decade, which has become cause for concern.

The city is operating with hundreds of fewer officers than at any point over the past decade. With violent crime and overtime on the rise, some are raising alarm about public safety.

Just how bad is the manpower shortage? Since the turn of the 21st century, Baltimore never had less than 2,900 officers. The local news reports that today that number is sitting at around 2,500 and an additional 300 are on leave, so it’s more like 2,200. And this could hardly be taking place at a worse time. We already discussed that the final crime figures for 2016 put Baltimore in the spotlight with one of the fastest rising murder rates in the country. And as the linked article confirms, 2017 is only starting out worse, with their first 100 murders for the year taking place by April.

All of this is leading to the remaining officers being constantly stretched thin and working massive amounts of overtime which is shooting a big hole in the city budget. So why can’t they find people to take the jobs? The city is offering some explanations including competition from other law enforcement agencies and the stringent requirements to qualify. Those factors are probably true, but do you really think that’s the entire story?

The police, as well as any prospective applicants for the force, are obviously aware of and following the news. The old mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake may be gone, but she’s been replaced by someone who is pretty much a kindred spirit. And Marilyn Mosby is still the State’s Attorney for Baltimore. As you may recall, Mosby is the one who is still facing a lawsuit for her attempts to prosecute the city’s police far more harshly than any of the gang members tearing up the town. And the management at City Hall is still moving ahead with their series of “reforms” aimed not at reducing crime and making Baltimore more safe, but riding herd over the cops to see if they are actually the real problem.

With all of that in mind, anyone thinking of joining the ranks of the Baltimore PD is looking at walking into a situation where they will be working brutal hours out on the streets with fewer officers to back them up, facing a city which is, in some neighborhoods, probably more dangerous downtown Tikrit on any given day. And they’ll be doing it while working under an administration which isn’t exactly famous for having their back. The starting pay for a new officer in Charm City is just short of $50K per year (which isn’t bad really, and close to the national average) with benefits, but is that really worth facing those sorts of conditions? With all that in mind, the shortage of police officers really doesn’t seem to be that much of a mystery.