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Analytics system tracks “potentially problematic” behaviors in Baltimore City cops

Cops patrol the homes around Brooklyn Homes on Monday, July 3, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)
Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner
Cops patrol the homes around Brooklyn Homes on Monday, July 3, 2023.

The Baltimore Police Department now has a new tool for analyzing officer practices that could turn into misconduct.

The analytic system is called an “early-intervention” system and uses metrics like interactions like use of force, arrests, and citizen complaints to identify red flags in police officer behavior. The system alerts supervisors who can look at any potential patterns and then take non-disciplinary steps, like more training, with the officer.

“It's designed to help make sure we're getting in front of officers' behavior through direct intervention, before something manifests itself as misconduct,” Deputy Commissioner Eric Melancon explained before the Board of Estimates on Wednesday.

Approval of the $2.5 million “early-intervention” system was brought before the city’s spending board as a “walk-on” item and was approved unanimously.

The system is an essential component of the 2017 federal consent decree between the Baltimore Police Department and the Department of Justice meant to address unconstitutional policing practices.

“It's one of the last linchpins on technology for getting us over the finish line when it comes to having the tools to be able to demonstrate compliance,” said Melancon.

Among other things, the consent decree requires the department to have a system that monitors data for use of force; death and injury of people who are in police custody; misconduct complaints; violations of body camera policies; traffic collisions and vehicle pursuits; and non-disciplinary corrective action.

During Wednesday’s Board of Estimates meeting, Mayor Brandon Scott said that the early-intervention system is a “long, long, long, time coming” and that he advocated for such a system while he was still in the City Council. He also mentioned the many policing-related lawsuits the board has had to pay out to citizens and opined that some of that could have been avoided if a similar system had been in place years before.

The contract with Benchmark Analytics, a Chicago-based company, is effective immediately and runs through September 2026 with the option for renewal up to five years.

Emily is a general assignment news reporter for WYPR.
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