Formula for Change
The Police department re-focused on the most important issues:
- Crime reduction
- Community partnerships
- Enhanced technology
- Professional standards
Capital City Safe Streets Program
A highly effective partnership coincided with the new Administration. The "Capital City Safe Streets" program (CSSS) created in 2008 with the support of Maryland's Governor and top legislators. The aim was to support the Police Department and the City by providing a grant to fund a new initiative, but even more to harness the collective resources and willingness of an unprecedented coalition of government agencies. The partners include County and State law enforcement agencies, Parole and Probation, Annapolis Housing Authority (HACA), Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Office, the Department of Juvenile Services, the Health Department, and community members. A Criminal Justice Coordinator, working under the direction of the Chief Pristoop, was appointed to oversee the program.
The essential purpose of CCSS was to enable information-sharing among the agencies and to facilitate strategies to identify and remove violent offenders from the community. The result was streamlined communication between partner agencies, broadened avenues of intelligence sharing and joint-law enforcement initiatives. Proactive measures included: task-force style warrant service, enhanced prosecutions using a "community prosecutor," targeted enforcement on dangerous offenders, focused deployment in crime-affected areas, "Safe-Zones" and other community outreach programs.
Citizens' Police Academy
The Department began its first Citizens' Police Academy in 2009 - a program designed to give the public a working knowledge of the Annapolis Police Department. Citizens attend classes similar to those of police department recruits. The goal is to educate the public about police work, to create community awareness, increase the rapport between citizens and the Department and to overcome barriers in communication and create realistic expectations. Interested citizens continue to graduate from the "Academy" with increased knowledge about Search and Seizure, Intelligence, Gangs and Graffiti, Forensic Services, Use of Force, Crime Mapping, Security Cameras, Specialty police units, Criminal Investigations, Domestic Violence and Community Programs. Citizens are also provided an opportunity to accompany police officers on patrol to gain further insight of their duties and responsibilities while serving the community.
Neighborhood Safety Council
In late 2009, the Department initiated "city-wide" community meetings under the banner of the newly formed "Neighborhood Safety Council." Over 100 residents attended the meetings at the onset of this new initiative. Annapolis citizens now have an opportunity, irrespective of community boundaries, to gather and discuss their needs, concerns and ideas. The meetings also provide a forum for various public safety experts to lecture and update the communities on contemporary matters.
2009 also saw the start of the Department's new "Explorer's Program" which is a worksite based program for young men and women. The Explorer program helps youth gain insight into a variety of careers, especially police work, by providing hands-on experience promoting growth and development of the participants.
Auxiliary Police Unit
The Department soon embarked on creating an Auxiliary Police Unit comprised of dedicated citizens volunteering their time to help the Police serve Annapolis. The core concept of the Unit is to expand police services and to free-up time for police officers to better focus on public safety. With professional training, the Unit's responsibilities have broadened to include directed patrol for increased visibility and help with traffic and community concerns. The Auxiliary Unit is quickly becoming essential to the Police Department.
With an emphasis on modernizing police capabilities, the Police Department invested over $1.5 million in technology since 2008. Funding was derived mainly through federal and state grants. Innovative projects have propelled the Department to much greater heights in criminal investigations and enforcement. The list of technology-related acquisitions is growing and includes:
- Over 40 city owned CCTV cameras throughout Annapolis and integration of nearly 100 privately owned cameras accessible to the Department
- Mobile-data-communication software to enable better communication between supervisors
- Dispatchers and patrol vehicles in the field, modern computers and record management systems
- Crime mapping and website access
- Improved computer-aided-dispatch
- Language lines and updated caller aided dispatch
- License plate readers (LPR)
- Field-based reporting
- "E Citations"
- State-of-the-art cell phone interceptor equipment
Additional projects are underway including mobile identification devices, web-based records management and expanding the Department's CCTV program.