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Annapolis Mayor Fails to Understand Citizen Concerns (About Crime)

Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer is the subject of a lot of negative chatter, with fervent frustration once relegated to the blogosphere and insider circles now finding outlets with the local paper and citizen groups.

Mayor Moyer’s record since her reelection to a second term is something of a comedy. The city recently lost a lawsuit regarding retiree pensions, and is currently being sued by the contractors of both the police station and the market house, the latter of which has been royally mismanaged ever since the previous tenants and the Moyer administration failed to come together prior to the most recent renovation. There are thoughts that another lawsuit may be brewing, as the city refuses to pay the money it has committed to the Housing Authority to defray security costs.

For me, the Mayor is the ultimate lame duck. She has been on the city council forever, and doesn’t face reelection. To me, she seems only concerned with leaving her mark (environmental measures), furthering her pet projects (sister cities), and rewarding the people who helped her get to where she is–she has changed the charter, twice, to create new departments that are directed by 2 of her friends, each making in the neighborhood of $115,000. The Mayor seems genuinely annoyed that citizens would have concerns that she has to address. This is truly how I view the Mayor right now–doing just enough to avoid being recalled.

The latest manifestation of the Mayor’s apparent apathy is her unwillingness to address the crime problem. She has proposed some odd crime fighting measures, including buying 4 Segways and a horse, but has not pressed the issue. If she was truly concerned about the problem, and she truly thought her measures would work, she would call emergency sessions of the council to make these things happen.

The Mayor seems to be in denial. She sent out, via email, a “fact sheet” regarding the Annapolis Police Department and defending the crime rate in the city, implying that we don’t have a problem. Read below the fold to view the transcript of her memo, along with poignant commentary.

(Crossposted)

The Annapolis Police Department received National Accreditation in March, 2004 and was reaccredited in March, 2007. This puts the APD in elite company along with only 29 out of 183 police agencies in Maryland and 593 of approximately 17,000 police agencies in the United States.

Here we go! This fact is irrelevant; the elite accreditation status of the APD has nothing to do with our crime problem. “Fully staffed departments with effective tactics don’t solve crime–accreditations solve crimes”, the saying does not go.

Annapolis Police are among the highest paid and have the best health and retirement benefits in the state. The current pay for newly hired officers — $44,630.00 annually — is among the highest in Maryland. It is substantially higher than the starting salaries paid by Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Montgomery County.

The problem here is that the $5000 hiring bonus is included in that $44,000+ figure. So, the first year they make that much, but in the second year when there is no bonus, they have to take a pay cut to under $40,000. Not good. And not better than other jurisdictions.

There have been 51 officers hired since 2002 and 7 new officers were hired in 2007.

But how many retired? And how many positions remain vacant despite funding? And most importantly, even if we hired ten thousand officers, is crime getting better? (Answers: a handful, 18, no.)

The national clearance rate average for homicides is between 50-75%. Annapolis’ clearance rate for homicides consistently surpasses the 80% mark. Over the past 5 years, the department has cleared 17 of 19 homicides. In addition, the clearance rate for all crimes reviewed nationally is about 21-22%. The Annapolis Police Department averages 30% for all cases reviewed.

First of all, how can the clearance rate average be between 50 and 75%? If you have national statistics, you should have a single number. Anyway, a city where you know all of 100 murderers is inferior to a city where you don’t know the only murderer. See what I’m saying? But, good work to the APD for the higher than average clearance rate.

Chief Johnson, Captain Imhof, Captain Marshall, Lieutenant Powell, Lieutenant Della and Sergeant Hall have all received training at the FBI National Academy.

I have received training from the Oxford Institute for Influential Blogging, yet this is merely the 63rd most influential political blog in Ward 5.

Captain Simpson, Lieutenant Powell and Lieutenant Cynthia Howard have all been trained at the Southern Police Institute.

George W. Bush went to Yale.

1/3 of City of Annapolis Police Officers have either some college or full degrees.

Enough already. Nobody is doubting the ability of the rank officers. The issue is: without their full compliment of resources–specifically more officers–they cannot be fully effective..

The training process to become a member of the Annapolis Police Department includes 6 month training at a police academy and 8-12 weeks of field training. The entire process takes between 8-10 months. Annapolis uses police academies in Howard County, Baltimore City and occasionally Frederick. Training dates vary and occur between late September and early January.

This “did you know” is becoming more and more unrelated to the issue at hand. Who is complaining about the training process? Actually, I want to complain–notice how (A) we don’t have a police department of our own and (B) how we don’t send our recruits to Anne Arundel County because they steal our officers away from us by offering higher pay!

The national ratio of officers per 1000 citizens is 1 per thousand. The Annapolis Police Department currently maintains a ratio of 3.6 officers per thousand citizens.

I recently saw this described as a “tortured” argument, which is highly brilliant commentary worthy of mention. Ratios such as this are not useful because:

1. The International Chiefs Of Police say so.

2. Annapolis has an abnormally high density of public housing, which accounts for most murders and a disproportionately high number of drug crimes.

3. We are a capital city and have a unique non-resident population.

I have chosen to present the mayor’s document in it’s entirety, so now you will have to read through some boring statistics before arriving at the next bit of brilliant commentary. Also, take a look at this article called Officer-per-thousand Formulas and Other Policing Myths. You’ll particulary enjoy the part where it says “We have worked………for managers with 3.6 officers per thousand who delcare they cannot do proactive policing without more cops”. What a fabulous concidence–we have 3.6 officers per thousand!

Statistics – The numbers game

The charts included in the addendum of this report include data supplied by the Annapolis Police Department to the FBI that accurately reveals significant progress in the City’s commitment to improve public safety and security.

In 2005, 2097 violent crimes were reported, the lowest number reported in the City since 1990. And while it is true that 2006 showed a nationwide spike in crime levels, the 2,415 crimes reported in Annapolis were still far less than the levels of nearly 3000 crimes per year reported in the mid 90’s. As of July, the year 2007 is showing a downward trend-some 6% lower than last year, and 2% lower than 2005.

The charts also show that the number of officers currently on the streets protecting the citizens of Annapolis is consistent with, and, in some cases, higher, than historical numbers.

Some attempt to show crime rates by comparing the numbers of incidents with the census population of a city. These types of comparisons are convenient but inaccurate, especially when discussing a City like Annapolis. They do not take into account the common sense factor that the City of Annapolis entertains more than 4 million visitors each year and may, on any given day, have over 100,000 people inside her borders. The Naval Academy, St. John’s College and other state and federal residents and employees are not included in the census for Annapolis.

And, we’re back. DID YOU JUST READ THAT???!!! The mayor speaks of the “common sense factor” that this city is a Capital city and has a high non-resident population. Isn’t this the same common sense factor that would invalidate officer-to-population ratios?

Other destination communities like Ocean City, Maryland, with a census population of approximately 8000 and a non-resident population of over 200,000 on many days face the same challenge.

Statistics, when manipulated, can be used to “prove” that based on the number of crimes per 100,000 residents, Ocean City is a much more dangerous place than Washington, DC or Baltimore.

So let’s forget ratios. The city for the second year in a row has set a record number of murders, with 8 and 9 respectively for the past 2 years. The early pace for 2008 is 36! Any worries? Plus, Ocean City is a terrible comparison that is not made anywhere else. Are you really trying to deny there is a problem?

Using the numbers, Ocean City, Maryland, a “city” of approximately 8000 people, would show a crime rate about 300% higher than the national average. Double or triple the rates of cities like Newark, Detroit, Baltimore and Atlanta. Using the census population to number of crimes comparison would lead one to conclude that they are four times more likely to be robbed, six times more likely to be burglarized, seven times more likely to be raped, and ten times more likely to be assaulted in Ocean City than in Washington, DC.

Common sense says that is simply not possible in a city of 8000 people.

But, when Ocean City’s public safety numbers are compared to those of a city of 200,000 – the number of people that may actually be there on any given day – they fall far below national averages. Richmond, Virginia has just under 200,000 residents. They had 84 murders in 2005. Ocean City had one.

So, are you saying that the tourists here are the problem? ARE THE TOURISTS THE PROBLEM? NO. THIS IS WHY OCEAN CITY IS A TERRIBLE COMPARISON.

Someone seeing the numbers alone could easily make the mistake of assuming that the crime rate in Annapolis is higher than that of the national average for a City of its size.

Or, they could call upon their first-grade arithmetic skills and understand that 9 murders is more than 8 murders, and try to fix a problem.

Again, common sense says that is not true.

If you want common sense, I’ll give it to you. If you asked anybody who didn’t follow the issue what to do about the crime problem, they would say fix the projects. That’s common sense. We have a lot of public housing, section 8, subsidized housing–whatever you want to call it. And many to most of the drug and violent crimes happen in or near these areas, or by someone living in or near these areas.

When Annapolis’ numbers are compared to a city of 120,000-the number of people that may actually be here on any given day-they also fall far below the national average. Waco, Texas, a city of about 117,000 people, had 692 auto thefts in 2005. Annapolis had 150.

Statistics such as these do not consider the large numbers of visitors that swell the daily populations and create public safety of cities like Annapolis and Ocean City. Improving Public safety in Annapolis depends on working with the real statistics, and not playing a “number’s game.”

I mean, this is incredible. The mayor is intensely laboring to defend the record. To her, this is a problem of statistics. She is just getting to how she intends to “solve” the problem.

Public Safety Initiatives by the City of Annapolis –August, 2007.

1. Increase visibility of existing police personnel

The pool of personnel for public safety has been depleted nationally by the war in Iraq and other Homeland security programs. Like other jurisdictions around the country, Annapolis is facing new challenges.

Reduce the number of shifts at the Annapolis Police Department from the current five to three. This will increase the number of officers available for each shift and result in a higher level of visibility and protection and the most efficient deployment of available officers.

This is crazy. Rather than hire more actual officers, the mayor plans to adjust the patrols to make it look like we have more officers. Unbelievable. By the way, this is not a new idea. None of this stuff is a new initiative that the mayor has come up with in response to the increasing citizen concerns. This is all recycled ideas from last year.

Purchase 4 additional Segways. Segways increase “feet on the street” by providing greater mobility and allowing officers to cover a wider area.

So does a bicycle. Or more officers. Why do we need Segways? They are like thousands of dollars each.

Examine the feasibility of adding one horseback mounted unit to the City’s police force. Officers on horseback are highly visible and research shows that in crowd and emergency situations a single mounted officer is equal to ten officers on foot. This allows foot officers to be deployed elsewhere.

I once fell off a horse. Oh, and this is a terrible idea. Good for riot control, meaningless for drug enforcement.

2. Improve recruiting efforts

Returning from a National Conference on Employee Recruitment, Director of Human Resources Kimla Milburn offered new insights and outlined some tips for successful recruiting.

“In speaking with my colleagues from around the country, it is evident that we are all facing tremendous challenges in recruiting police officers,” she said. “Positive statements about the department go a long way in encouraging people to consider a career with the APD. Negative articles and Letters to the Editor bashing the Department simply do not help. We need to work together to increase the level of interest in working for the Annapolis Police Department.”

There is no shortage of applicants.

Enhance recruitment efforts by creating a team of ambassadors to help bring officers to the Annapolis Police Department. The team will include Director of Human Resources Kimla Milburn, Public Information Officer Ray Weaver and the members of the City’s Public Safety Committee-Aldermen Ross Arnett, Dave Cordle and Alderwoman Sheila Findlayson.”

Create new brochures and marketing messages and materials.

“A team of ambassadors” armed with wagon-loads of “new brochures and marketing messages and materials” is a steaming heap of useless horsecrap. I can tell you from several years of recruitment efforts that cash is king. It’s not the only factor, but in the case of police, it is reasonable to assume that being an officer in Annapolis is roughly the same as anywhere else. That being the case, if we pay more, we get more officers. The mayor will have you believe that we pay more already, but since a $5000 signing bonus goes away, we really don’t. (On a side note, the sister city budget is thriving).

Also, why should we even worry about this since our crime rate is so much lower than the national average?

3. Fight illegal guns and drugs

Request the City delegation to the General Assembly to submit legislation designating the entire City of Annapolis a Drug-Free Zone. This action will double the fines to anyone convicted of dealing drugs in the City.

I’ve never understood this one. Are drugs more illegal in some parts of the city than others? Why is there even debate on whether or not the entire city is a drug-free zone? I guess they teach that at the FBI National Academy and the Southern Police Institute.

“We need to send a clear message that dealing drugs in the City of Annapolis will not be tolerated,” said the Mayor. “Hitting dealers in their pocketbook, doubling their jail time and in general making Annapolis a hostile environment to this type of activity will help convince dealers that our City is not a place they want to be.”

Great. Couldn’t agree more.

Request the City delegation ask for additional state funds for a comprehensive drug plan for both treatment and prevention in the City of Annapolis.

If we can get more money, fine. It doesn’t hurt to ask. However, treatment programs benefit users rather than dealers, and don’t get at the bigger crime problem.

Initiate a new illegal drugs and illegal guns task force with State & Federal agencies.

This was already going on–even before the mayor announced it the first time.

“In 2006, the Annapolis Police Department made 275 arrests on drugs and conducted 45 raids,” said Mayor Moyer. “The goal of this unified effort is to double the number of arrests and to make it crystal clear that the Capital City is not a Drug Capital.”

Yes, who knows how bad it would be if the message “that the Capital City is not a Drug Capital” was muddled and murky.

3. Forge partnerships with communities

Call on citizens to identify places in the City that need better lighting.

This, of course, would never happen because leaving lights on is anti-environment, and environmental chicanery is the #1 Moyer priority.

“Leave your porch and outside lights on or set them up on motion detectors-people that are up to no good don’t like bright lights,” said Mayor Moyer. “If you see a dark place, or a street light out anywhere in the City, call us and we’ll work with your Alderman, Public Works and BG and E to get the lighting improved. We want to help you improve your sense of security and safety in your neighborhood.”

Continue training for Neighborhood Watch. Since the beginning of the program in the mid 90’s, 7000 citizens have attended Neighborhood Watch training sessions. In the past year, over 1400 citizens have actively participated in the program.

The whole point of Neighborhood Watch is to identify problems, then report them to the police. The citizens are already doing this!

Continue the collaborative process with at risk neighborhoods.

This……..

Continue the “Heroes” mentoring program for at-risk youths

….sounds……

Offer more real-world job skills training programs like the Sherwin Williams painting program that offers at-risk adults the chance to learn a marketable skill.

…….vague and without substance. Also, other training programs include the “Maryland State Archives historic preservation program”, the “Parole Town Center city council lobbying program“, and the “Worst Idea Ever, Al Gore memorial O-27-07 green collar job program”.

5.* Develop a new agreement between the City of Annapolis and the Housing Authority on the use of existing dollars for public safety.

(*I don’t know what happened to #4, so don’t ask.)

HA!! “Developing a new agreement” actually means “figuring out how to justify not paying HACA the $200,000 we already owe them”, because that’s what’s happening. Rumor is another lawsuit may be in the works.

“Since 2004 Annapolis has provided the Housing Authority with $200,000 to employ police officers to work as off duty security,” said Mayor Moyer. “This money was to be matched with HACA funds for a $400,000 public safety program. HACA has not utilized all of the City’s contribution. It has also been unsuccessful in recruiting from other law enforcement agencies. We need to clarify accountability for services and define roles and responsibilities.”

No BS: I didn’t read this last paragraph before making the “HA” comment–it was just sheer clairvoyance and understanding of the situation. The Mayor is feuding with Eric Brown and is not paying the city’s invoices.

Ok, the rest of this you can read on your own–there’s not very much more. By now I hope you get the point.

The Mayor proposes that a new and separate agreement of understanding be negotiated to include shared costs and partnership on:

-The use of surveillance cameras
-A sub station program
-Agreement on the assignment of undercover police in the area and enhanced Neighborhood Watch
-Implementation of community service programs for All HACA residents as required by HUD

New initiatives

-Continue working on a revitalization district for Clay and Washington Street
-Install speed cameras on Duke of Gloucester Street
-Propose amendments to the City Code to strengthen the noise ordinance

Request that the City’s Community and Housing Board review successful housing programs in other jurisdictions, research opportunities for home ownership and social service needs and recommend the changes in our federal housing program required to enhance public safety. Some changes may require federal or state legislation.






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