Mayor faces cuts, vow to to maintain police
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, in her first state of the city address, vowed to keep the police force staffed and possibly scale back the rolling closures of fire stations, despite facing what she described as a "devastating" deficit.
Here are some highlights from her speech regarding public safety (photo by The Sun's Algerna Perna):
"On February 11th, at 1:14am, firefighters responded to a 2-alarm fire in the 1700 block of Montpelier. A woman was trapped in a rowhouse and overwhelmed by smoke. A slow response would have set the whole block ablaze and caused certain death. Instead, our firefighters battled the blaze in 3 feet of snow and Truck 5 rescued a woman off of a second story porch roof.. The Firefighters of Truck 5 are here today. From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of every single person in Baltimore, thank you.
"By making everything a priority, nothing is a priority. Our limited resources have been spread too thin, in too many areas. As a result, we now inherit a devastating $120 million deficit.
"Let me tell you what $120 million means to Baltimore: It is seventeen-hundred Police Officer Positions – half of our police force. It is 100% of our firefighting force. It is the combined general fund budgets of Health, Recreation and Parks, Housing and Libraries. $120 million equals twenty-two-hundred City employees or 55% of our civilian workforce.
More of the mayor's remarks on police and fire:
If we work together, we can continue to make our City safer.
Despite a deficit equal to half of our police force, we can maintain every single street patrol officer, keeping cops on the street and patrolling our neighborhoods.
We can increase efforts to target Baltimore's most violent and dangerous criminals in order to dismantle gang networks and reduce gun violence.
We can continue to invest in crime-camera technology, a force multiplier that reduces crime in business districts and neighborhoods.
Despite a deficit equal to our entire Fire Department, if we work together, we can reduce rotating closures of fire companies. This will decrease emergency response times to more consistently meet the National Fire Protection standard.