BALTIMORE (AP) — Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice released a scathing report detailing racial discrimination, excessive force and rampant abuse within the Baltimore Police Department. Commissioner Kevin Davis told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that he will focus on training officers and supervisors at every level and emphasize repairing the fractured trust between police and community members in the city's most violent and vulnerable neighborhoods. Fighting crime and supporting communities, he said, are not at odds; they're one and the same.
ON BUILDING COMMUNITY TRUST AND FIGHTING CRIME:
"It's always been my experience that people who call us to alert us to disrupting activity are the same ones who don't want to see their sons or grandsons stopped or harassed by the police. There's an art form to this job that police officers can develop over the years. There is a certain art form to pulling up and talking to human beings and encouraging them to disperse or changing their behavior, but we have to do a better job of that. We can't just show up to street corners, slap handcuffs on people and expect the problems to go away."
ON IMPROVING TRAINING:
"Training isn't taken seriously in Baltimore. As big as we are, and we're the eighth largest in the country, we're not staffed at the point where we can effectively fight crime, effectively engage in the community and effectively train. When we train police officers we're literally taking them from their normal duties and introducing new things to them. It takes time and takes them away from their other duties. Baltimore is always so, so very busy, training has taken a backseat and it's not what it should be in a police department of our size. Better trained cops will react differently under pressure, and in the community. We have to make the time to afford our officers more training opportunities. We're challenged by the volume of crime and staffing challenges that always seem at odds with the need to train."
ON THE CRIME FIGHT:
"The emphasis has been exclusively on the crime fight, exclusively on violent crime, but I also think about the residential burglaries, the auto thefts. The formula for a healthy crime fight is addressing all crimes, not just one, and for too long we've put all our eggs in the homicide basket at the expense of other crimes. If your house is broken into, if your car is stolen, if it takes cops too long to your 911 call, that's the things that get people thinking about where they live. They'll put a for sale sign in their yard. We've got to do better with our crime fight beyond homicides. We need to have far, far fewer homicides and need to solve them faster, but we need to do other things. There's a lot to do here and it's not going to happen overnight but it will happen."