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Keyword: police

To the men and women who serve

By Don Mohler, Baltimore County Executive

Every instinct tells us to run away from the fire, the crash, the broken body. Every instinct in our first responders says “rush to the emergency, we’re here to help.”

They spring into action when dispatch sends them to a burning building, an accident, a robbery or domestic disturbance. They spend long shifts gathering evidence, patrolling neighborhoods, and responding to 911 calls for medical emergencies.

All answer the call to serve in a way that is sometimes hard for others to understand. Why would they work holidays and late shifts, giving up time with their families to hold a stranger’s hand in an ambulance? Why would they rush toward possible danger? Why would they risk their lives for people they don’t know?

The answer is different for every police, fire, paramedic and 911 responder.

This September 11, we give special thanks to the men and women who rush to the emergency. They answer the call, and we are a better, safer community for their service.


Releases Report by Council of State Governments Justice Center

An independent review of the County’s police responses to people with behavioral health needs found that the County has a strong foundation in place with its Baltimore County Crisis Response System (BCCRS), and its programs and services. The assessment, conducted by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center at the request of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, offers recommendations intended to further improve the County’s practices.

In late 2016, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz asked the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center to conduct an independent assessment of its law enforcement and behavioral health collaboration, the Baltimore County Crisis Response System (BCCRS), which helps the County respond to people who have behavioral health needs. In partnership with the Baltimore County Police Department (BCPD), the Baltimore County Department of Health, and the Affiliated Santé Group—a non-profit behavioral health crisis service provider—the CSG Justice Center reviewed the BCCRS for its effectiveness, comprehensiveness, and adherence to national best practices.

Report Hails Cultural Competence Training

The assessment report outlines positive steps the County has taken toward providing additional training focused on improving the cultural competence of law enforcement officers, and states that the number of hours BCPD spends on these trainings exceeds other jurisdictions with which the CSG Justice Center has worked:

Additional trainings related to implicit bias and cultural competency for all new BCPD recruits on topics such as bias incident, FBI civil rights, and diversity

“Fair Practices” training for new lieutenants and front-line supervisors (i.e., corporals) that focuses on the opportunities, challenges, and values of ensuring diversity in a public safety agency, including its impact on employee morale and the agency’s relationship with the community

“Blue Courage” curriculum training for all sworn BCPD employees (from recruit to the executive level), which explores the importance of respect in policing and public safety

Steps Taken to Better Respond to Individuals with Behavioral Health Needs

The report identifies significant steps County officials have taken to improve BCCRS and BCPD responses to people who have behavioral health needs. These efforts include:

A three-year strategic plan for providing comprehensive mental health and de-escalation training to staff at all levels

An action plan developed by the police department to improve data collection and analysis for BCCRS data and performance indicators

Additional specialized training opportunities provided to officers and clinicians on the Mobile Crisis Team, such as crisis intervention and mental health/first aid training

Crisis Intervention Team training opportunities for 911 dispatchers and other critical first responders in the County

Recommendations for Continuous Improvement

Kamenetz has directed the County’s police chief and health and human services director to respond to the report’s recommendations within 90 days.

“Our police department and health officials remain committed to improving police responses to those with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders,” said Kamenetz. “This assessment is critical in strengthening our effectiveness, comprehensiveness, and adherence to national best practices.”


Funds More than $8 Million Increase to Add School Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists, and 19 Police School Resource Officers

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz will propose 109.5 additional positions for school counselors, social workers, psychologists and Police School Resource Officers in his annual budget to be presented to the County Council on Thursday, April 12. Also included are additional health assistants and bus attendants. This investment is geared to addressing the ever growing mental health needs of County school students. The personnel additions further the significant $13.6 million of investments in school safety and security accelerated by Kamenetz after a 2012 County high school shooting.

“In Baltimore County, our budgets continually reflect a commitment to ensure that our schools are healthy learning environments,” said Kamenetz. “Since 2011, we invested $13.6 million to reinforce all school doors and windows, adding security cameras and controlled entry. With this budget, we add necessary personnel to ensure that we are reaching the mental health needs of every child to avoid incidents of disruption."

Increase in Student Services Personnel

The County Executive’s budget that he will present to the County Council next week includes an increase of more than $8 million to fund an additional 109.5 positions in the area of student support personnel and to expand Baltimore County’s Police School Resource Officer program.

Kamenetz is proposing two School Climate Support Teams to address students with complex needs and to assist schools with conflict management strategies — one for elementary schools and one for high schools. 

If adopted, the budget would add more than 22 social workers, 23 counselors, and 18 school psychologists to the Baltimore County Public Schools, while also funding additional pupil personnel workers, health assistants, and bus attendants.

“I am very appreciative that County Executive Kamenetz recognizes the important role that student service personnel play in creating a positive school climate, and that his budget proposal will fund these initiatives,” stated Interim School Superintendent Verletta White.  “The best way to prevent disciplinary and disruptive issues in our schools is to recognize and address the important role that mental health plays in student safety.”

“I believe in being proactive,” said Council Chair Julian Jones. “Doing everything that we can to ensure our school system has the resources it needs to help our children before they are in trouble is the appropriate thing to do.”

19 Additional Police School Resource Officers Added to Budget

The County Executive’s budget proposal will also include 19 additional Police School Resource Officers, increasing the County’s total from 65 officers to 84. With this proposal, one officer will be added to each of the County’s 10 police precincts and be assigned to work with the elementary schools in that area on school security issues. The additional 9 officers will be added to the current school allocation based upon review by Police Chief Sheridan and Superintendent White.

“School Resource Officers have proven to be a critical component in not only responding to incidents, but more importantly, to preventing incidents before they occur,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan. “If approved by the County Council, we will have these additional officers in place before the beginning of school in the fall.”

 Baltimore County Has Invested $13.6 Million in School Security Since 2011

Since 2011, the Kamenetz administration has invested $13.6 million to safeguard schools by installing security cameras and card reader door locks in all Baltimore County elementary schools and enhancing these security measures in middle and high schools. This funding initiative increased the number of school cameras by 400%, from 1,150 to 4,600; newly installing them in all elementary schools, and enhancing existing cameras and adding them as needed in middle and high schools. In the same timeframe, the number of card reader door locks in schools more than doubled from 261 to 583, providing an important measure of security for routine schooldays as well as in emergencies.

The County is now completing the installation of video dashboard technology that provides public safety officials with instant access to video feeds from security cameras at schools, libraries and other public facilities; as well giving them direct access to live traffic cameras on state highways. GPS systems are now installed in County school buses through a partnership between County government and Baltimore County Public Schools.

“The events of the past few months have moved us all.  No community, no school, and no family is immune from the fear that takes place after every school shooting incident,” concluded Kamenetz. “As government officials we have no more important responsibility than to make sure we do all that we can to protect our students and our teachers each and every day.”


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017