Baltimore emergency responder staffing and equipment shortages put public at risk: ‘Your safety is in jeopardy!’

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BALTIMORE, MD – As violent crime surges through the city, Baltimore EMS and police are struggling to provide services to residents in the face of staffing shortages and budget shortfalls.

Recently, a 12-year-old Baltimore resident was struck by a car, and forced to wait nearly an hour for ambulance transport.

Firefighter Rich Langford, president of the Baltimore City Fire Local 734 union, told Fox News in an interview that firefighters were able to respond “within minutes” and render aid, but staff and unit shortages led to the delay in transport.

He said:

“Baltimore, we are one of the busiest E.M.S./fire department systems in the country. 

“We are simply overwhelmed with calls. We have staff shortages. We have unit shortages. 

“It just took an obscene amount of time to get a transport unit to the scene to help this little boy get to the hospital.”

According to Fox, Langford also stated that EMS is “losing a lot of members right now.”

And yet, the call volume is massive.  Langford told Fox that “the workload is ‘overwhelming, with 345,000 calls last year.’”

He added:

“Our department needs help. 

“We need more money to help us get through this. We have been understaffed for years now. 

“It’s finally caught up to us. We have over 40 vacancies in our E.M.S. division alone.”

A recent tweet by Baltimore firefighters on the little boy’s situation drove home the point of unit and staff shortages. 

It read:

“Yesterday a 12 year old in SE Baltimore had to wait 58 minutes…!

“But closing 4 #BCFDEMS Ambulances won’t cause delays right?!

“Want to buy some magic beans?”

It is not only EMS and firefighters that are struggling with staffing and budget shortfalls in Baltimore.

Baltimore police, who are still reeling from the effects of defunding last year by $22 million, are spread paper-thin. 

Fox 45 News reports that, as a result of police staffing shortages, “public safety is beginning to be at risk.”

For example, a recent block party gone wild in North Baltimore left residents shaken and emphasized the safety risk to citizens when officers were “both outmanned and outgunned.”

At this event, hundreds of people converged on a neighborhood park one early Sunday morning in July.

One local resident told Fox:

“I don’t know how it started, but they were both shooting and fighting.”

Officers arrived to find an “out-of-control scene.”  

One officer, who “urgently called for back-up,” radioed:

“There’s only two of us, and there’s probably 500 people out here at Greenmount and 24th.”

Other audio from the chaotic scene was heard to say:

“Yeah, they stomped the crap out of this guy….

“The individual in the middle looks like he has a firearm in the front of his pants….

“Hold the line at 23rd!  Hold the line at 23rd!”

According to a tweet from the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, that night “[t]here were 1/2 as many police on the scene and working the entire city last night as there would have been 10 years ago!”

Retired city police officer Daryl Buhrman told Fox that, 30 years ago when the homicide rate was “significantly less,” there were three times as many police officers patrolling the streets as there are now.

As it stands now, according to CBS Baltimore, the city is “on track” to tally 300 homicides for the seventh year in a row.

Also, 1000 shootings in the city are expected by the end of 2021.

In addition, Neighborhood Scout reports that Baltimore residents have a 1 in 53 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime.

At this time, in the face of widespread violence, Fox Baltimore reports that police are understaffed by 259 to 400 officers, depending on who is sharing the numbers.

Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police has been raising the alarm about how understaffing can affect public safety.

They tweeted in July:

“Last night, the @baltimorepolice Northern District had 7 officers on the street and the other Districts averaged 12 officers. 

“Ten years ago the average was 20 officers/shift. YOUR SAFETY IS IN JEOPARDY!”

Former Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jason Johnson told Fox Baltimore that that number of officers was definitely not enough.  

He said:

“For any district in the City of Baltimore to be staffed with seven patrol officers is entirely unacceptable. 

“It’s just not sufficient. It impacts public safety, it impacts officer safety and it’s unacceptable.”

Even though the Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has actually increased the police budget by $28 million this year, last year’s defunding effects are evidently still in play.  Fox 45 News asserts that hiring is “made harder in the ‘defund police’ era.”

Former Commissioner Jason Johnson added:

“It’s driving people out of the profession, but it’s also preventing people from wanting to enter the profession.”

Retired officer Buhrman added a sobering prediction to these facts, saying:

“If it continues the way it is, some officer is going to die trying to protect himself and the city of Baltimore.”

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After defunding the police, Baltimore requests 100 federal officers to help fight spike in violent crime

July 25, 2021

BALTIMORE, MD- On Thursday, July 22nd, city officials announced a proposal that, if approved, would bring 100 federal officers from various agencies to Baltimore to help local officers patrol the streets and fight the spike in crime.

According to reports, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michale Harrison said if the request is approved, people may start seeing those agents on the streets working side-by-side with Baltimore City Police Officers. He said in a statement:

“The ask is for federal agents to come help us. Certainly, police officers will answer the citizens’ calls for service on patrol, but I think what the bigger picture meant is federal agents on the streets of Baltimore.”

City officials announced the potential initiative during a quarterly consent decree hearing in federal court. The court testimony revealed a severe staffing shortage that could take nearly six years of aggressive recruiting and hiring to overcome. 

So far, the federal government agencies have not agreed to send any agents to assist Baltimore. Most of the requested agents are from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).

Court testimony indicated that the department has 600 vacancies, which include 392 officers and 14 detectives. The police department has found staffing to be its greatest challenge to compliance with the federal consent decree.

Reportedly, Baltimore police have also struggled to put newly-purchased technology to work in the city, which is another element of the consent decree.

New patrol cars that will be equipped with high-tech computers are on hold by the manufacturer because of a computer chip shortage.

The judge questioned why so many people were being arrested and then released without any charges. Officials testified that Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s policy to not prosecute certain low-level offenses had caused much of the confusion.

Court testimony also stated that only about a third of the police force has so far been trained on the prosecutor’s new policy. Judge James Bredar said that the decree does not direct officers to ignore quality of life offenses.

He proceeded to question whether police and the state’s attorney’s office are pursuing different agendas. Harrison said that the department meets weekly with Mosby’s office to discuss why certain cases were not prosecuted.

Many report being skeptical that the federal consent decree has done much to improve things in Baltimore. Maryland State Senator Jill Carter, a defense attorney, stated that she has heard from constituents and clients that not much has changed as far as police interactions with the community are concerned.  She said in a statement:

“They are just dotting T’s and crossing I’s. I don’t think real reform is happening. It’s too slow and I think people are beginning to question the efficacy of doing this.”

Harrison noted that Baltimore like other big cities is seeing a spike in violence, with Maryland city recording 18 homicides in the past 10 days alone. The police chief stated that the spike in crime has resulted from a number of issues like gang violence and retaliation from previous bad acts.

But, he also said that the city has seen a particular increase in “close acquaintance shootings and domestic violence shootings.” In addition to seeking federal help for patrols, city officials disclosed a new violence reduction plan that will soon be rolled out in three phases. 

The plan, which was unveiled on Friday, July 23rd, by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, is a five-year violence reduction plan aimed to treat gun violence as a public health crisis.

The plan, which is an “all-hands-on-deck” strategy, reportedly beefs up investments in violence intervention programs, increases community engagement, and puts a renewed focus on diminishing illegal guns.

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