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  • Housing & Human Welfare Committee

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Issues

About the Annapolis Police, Chief Pristoop, and Dialogue

Food for Fines Program

About the Annapolis Police, Chief Pristoop, and Dialogue

October 17, 2016 - Because of recent articles in The Capital about the City's police, I write in support of the City's Police Chief, Mike Pristoop, and the 100+ officers and department staff who work to protect our City, many of whom risk their lives to do so.

That support is based on my subjective evaluation of the Chief's qualifications, integrity, and initiative, and an objective review of crime statistics. As I'll elaborate below, it is not a conclusion that everything is perfect or can't be improved, but is support that the City has the right leader in place in its police department and that it is generally successful.

I also write to support continued dialogue which has been productive but caution that making personal attacks against the Chief is not productive or deserved and is, in fact, counter-productive.

Since coming to the City in 2008, Chief Pristoop and the City's police officers and department have focused on community outreach, overseen a significant overall crime reduction, invested in cultural diversity, and made greater use of available technology. The chart below illustrates the changes in overall crime reduction since a peak in 2008 when the Chief started.

Impressively, the total number of Part One crimes (violent and property) in 2016 (847 year-to-date) is almost half (53%) of the number in 2008 (1586). Of note, the department is securing these reduced crime rates with a similar number of officers (109) as when crime was at its recent peak in 2008 (108), but with far fewer officers than when crime trended down in 2009 (120) and 2010 (125).

Successfully reducing the overall crime statistics does not diminish the fact that homicides are up, from 7 in 2008, down to 1 each in 2014-15, and up to 9 so far this year, and overall violent crimes are up to 196, a number not seen since 2008 when it was 265.

Certainly, the City Council and residents want to ensure that the Chief and department are up to the challenge of limiting the number of these crimes as much as reasonably possible. To that end, I outline 3 steps:

(1) review the monthly reports of activities,  
(2) review the 2016 summary of police accomplishments below, and  
(3) attend a City Council Public Safety Committee meeting.

Each month, I review the police department's activities as summarized in the City Manager's Monthly Reports and you can too.

If you review the most recent (August 2016), for example, you'll see dozens of activities that are positive and cooperative with the community, such as: Coffee with a Cop; Eastport Civic Association Picnic; Stanton Center Girls' Club; events at Harbor House, Annapolis Gardens, and Bay Ridge Gardens; Parole Elementary Celebration; West Street Library Community Helper Day; Oxford Landing Backpack giveaway; Annapolis Oaks Back to School; and Lighthouse Apostolic Church Back to School Event. They had a presence at 21 events (again, just August). You'll also see examples of a problem larger than the police, drug use. For instance, in August alone, the police responded to 12 overdose calls.

The 2016 summary of police accomplishments (below) demonstrates that the police department is appropriately focused on combating the heroin epidemic and enhancing a community presence. The department has kept up with current needs and issues with programs such as: Transaction Safe Place (you can conclude online purchases, such as Craig's List activities, at the Police Headquarters), PEDEL (register your bike), and Prescription Drug Drop Off.

No doubt, all these statistics, programs, and activities don't ensure that everyone feels like the department and Chief treat people from all backgrounds fairly. And, no doubt, despite all the training that department provides, a given interaction between an officer and a citizen, or the department and an officer, can be actually or perceived to be inappropriate.

At its root, that is what seems to be alleged by Mr. Snowden in the recent Capital article. Chief Pristoop points out that many, if not all, of the specific allegations have already been adjudicated, and always in favor of the police department. Perhaps there is a justifiable argument that the process has worked, because the allegations have been heard, and that should be the end of it. However, this might be an instance where being vindicated is not enough.

To truly tackle crime, drug activity, and the underlying related issues such as poverty, hunger, and lack of opportunity, the City should remain open to new ideas and continue to work to get buy-in from as many communities as possible. To that end, I look forward to the discussion planned at the next Public Safety City Council Committee on Monday at 5 p.m. in Council Chambers.

At that meeting, Chief Pristoop is scheduled to update the Council on actions taken on the recommendations made by various community members and groups. As chair of the committee, Alderwoman Finlayson has given serious thought to productive paths forward, and I look forward to hearing and considering her recommendations. As a Council, it is important that we work together to achieve the above-mentioned goals.

I encourage you to attend this meeting if possible and, while being open to further productive suggestions and dialogue, to extend your support to the Police Chief and department. As a community, we must show our support for the men and women who protect us all, day-in and day-out, and the man, Chief Mike Pristoop, who leads them.

Annapolis Police Department
2016 Progress and Accomplishments
Chief Michael Pristoop

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The Annapolis Police Department is dedicated to providing exemplary public safety through professional law enforcement and strong community involvement. Our goal is to make the City of Annapolis a safe place to live, work and visit. The Department is committed to reducing crime and improving community safety.
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Operations

Police Work associated with homicides ─ There have been nine homicides in the City of Annapolis in 2016. Six of the nine homicides are solved with arrests due to the ongoing community outreach efforts and detective work. There is law enforcement collaboration 24/7 on solving open cases. The Annapolis Police Department has a Clearance Rate for Part One Violent Crime that exceeds the national average.

CCTV Cameras ─ Through strategic and analytic tactics the Annapolis Police Department places CCTV cameras in areas of the City where a need is demonstrated. There are currently more than 50 cameras operational in the Harbor House community and Newtowne 20. The Mayor awarded $150,000 in funding recently for latest installs.

Additionally, the Department has access to more than 200 cameras citywide including private community cameras. Numerous crimes have been solved using information obtained from the cameras.

Anne Arundel Heroin Task Force ─ The Annapolis Police Department has assigned a Drug Enforcement Unit detective to work with the Anne Arundel County Police Department. This joint operation aims to identify and arrest heroin dealers. Further APD is a partner in the Task Force assisting in many ways.  

Neighborhood Enhancement Team ─ The NET team is deployed in neighborhoods staffed with three officers who engage in proactive, traditional and non-traditional police work to improve public safety, increase police visibility and maintain positive citizen/police relationships. The NET team operations are currently in two communities, Harbor House/ Eastport Terrace and Clay Street communities.   

Narcan (Heroin Overdose) Training and Deployment ─ All APD officers have been trained in the administration of Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids. All officers carry and are assigned two doses. The Department has dispensed eight doses of Narcan to overdose victims.

Firearms ─ As of October 5, 2016, 58 firearms have been recovered. There have been 17 firearms arrests in the same timeframe. Although not a record high, it is among the highest number of seizures in the past eight years.
     
Search and Seizure Warrants ─ As of October 5, 2016, 49 search and seizure warrants have been executed.

Administration

Hiring ─ As of September 2016, APD hired10 new officers, five officers are minority to include two African Americans, and three females (one female is Hispanic). Seven of the ten officers were lateral. In 2015 80% of hires were from diverse backgrounds, 50% African American.

Civilian Hiring ─ As of September 2016, 3 civilian staff have been hired as Police Communications Officers.

CALEA ─ The Annapolis Police Department has maintained its national accreditation recognition from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). In November of 2015, a site visit was conducted to ensure compliance with nationally set standards. APD successfully completed the compliance audit and was awarded accreditation in March 2016.

Community Programs

Citywide Homework Club Program ─ In September 2016, the Annapolis Police Department began participating in Homework Clubs at the HACA properties, Boys and Girls Club and the Stanton Center. A Homework Club is a space where kids can come after school to do their homework with support from adult and student volunteers. It is a place where learning, reading, writing, and math are valued and celebrated. Currently two officers and a civilian are tutoring kids in grades kindergarten to 8th grade, four days a week after school.

Character Counts! Program ─ Is a nationally recognized character development program for grade school children. Officers from the Annapolis Police Department have collaborated with Georgetown East Elementary School and are currently working with the 3rd and 4th grade classes. Five classes are visited once a week and given a lesson on one of the six pillars of character-Trustworthy, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.
El Joven Noble Rites of Passage ─ A Hispanic focused youth leadership development program. The program emphasizes life skills, cultural identify and leadership. APD's Hispanic Liaison is coordinating with the school system to start the program at Bates Middle School.

Annapolis Police Kids Club ─ In February 2016, the Annapolis Police Department launched a new community initiative that aims to create positive and meaningful interactions between officers and kids. The APKC is designed to foster a positive relationship between law enforcement and children. Some of the programs thus far have included an outing to a Navy Basketball game, a bike safety and fire safety presentation including a fire truck visit, a talk about leadership and sportsmanship from local Naval Academy athletes and coaches and a trip to the Maryland State Police Aviation Command Center.

Coffee with a Cop ─ On March 16, 2015, the Annapolis Police Department kicked off the Coffee with a Cop program which offers the community an opportunity to meet local officers and discuss community issues and build relationships.  The program continues at various locations throughout the City to include one in August and one before the end of the year.

National Night Out ─ Working with our criminal justice partners and community members, the Annapolis Police Department organizes the annual National Night Out event. The event is held the first Tuesday of every August and promotes neighborhood safety and helps foster positive police-community relationships. The event was held in the Harbor House community where 3 officers were sworn in by the Mayor.
Prescription Drug Drop Box ─ The Annapolis Police Department placed a permanent prescription drop off box in the lobby, on October 22, APD will participate in the National Takeback Initiative which encourages citizens to dispose of prescription medications. The public can discard expired, unwanted, and unused prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.

PEDA - Photograph, Engrave, Document and Lock - Watch Your Bike Program ─ The program, initiated by the Annapolis Police Department, allows residents to register bicycle's serial number, manufacturer and color in a database. The program ensures the information is quickly accessible if the bicycle is stolen and increases the chance of it being returned to the owner.         

Transaction Safe Place ─ To ensure our citizens are safe, the Annapolis Police Department welcomes the public to the Department to close their online transactions in a safe environment. Transaction Safe Place offers our department's parking lot and lobby to the public as a place to meet and handle transactions.

Explorer Post 199 ─ Law enforcement exploring is a career orientation and experience program for young people considering a career in law enforcement. Over the past several years, Post 199 has grown from two members to 17 members including 7 female explorers. The Explorers Post has clocked more than 2,000 volunteer hours in the community this past year.  

Social Media ─ The Annapolis Police Department maintains an informative and robust social media program with more than 20,000 followers on Twitter and FaceBook. The Annapolis Police Department maintains a YouTube Channel where information is timely and easily accessed. The videos topics range from Surviving an Active Shooter Event to local community meetings.

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Proposed Legislation - Food for Fines Program

For Immediate Release
October 3, 2016

Contact:
Marc Rodriguez
(443) 758-0531
marc@annapolisward5.com

Alderman to Propose “Food for Fines” Program to Increase Food Donations

Alderman Jared Littmann announces plans for a “Food for Fines” program to be introduced as an ordinance at an upcoming Annapolis City Council meeting.

As proposed, the “Food for Fines” program would allow any City of Annapolis (“City”) resident to bring in a pre-determined number of cans of food to the City as payment for any qualifying parking citation – including those that are past due. The program would run for approximately five weeks up to twice a year with the option of renewing it on a yearly basis.

Special Assistant to Alderman Littmann, Marc Rodriguez, is leading the effort of developing the “Food for Fines” program for the City. After consulting with other communities that successfully do this and meeting with a local nonprofit that would benefit from this program, he drafted the legislation with assistance from the City law office.

The “Food for Fines” program is a new and creative way of raising awareness about those in the community who go hungry and to help address the issue.

“Annapolitans are always looking for ways to give back to their community,” said Mr. Rodriguez. “This is an innovative way to bring residents together to fight hunger and deliver hope.”

Alderman Littmann and Mr. Rodriguez expect to partner with The Light House on the “Food for Fines” program. Under the program, all canned food donations received by the City would be donated to The Light House’s Community Food Bank in Annapolis.

“We look forward to partnering with the City to further support the residents we serve. In 2015, 95,000 meals were provided to homeless residents and hungry community members,” said Jo Ann Mattson, Director of Development for The Light House.

Details of the program are intentionally not yet finalized. Alderman Littmann and Mr. Rodriguez are soliciting suggestions on the proposed program before introducing the legislation so that community engagement can impact the legislation before its introduction, rather than at the end of the process by amendment. The draft legislation is posted on Alderman Littmann’s website: http://annapolisward5.com/pdf/FoodForFinesDraftOrdinance.pdf.

The public is invited to send comments and suggestions on the draft legislation by October 10 to Marc Rodriguez: mrodriguez@annapolisward5.com.

ABOUT
Jared Littmann is the Alderman of Ward 5 in the City of Annapolis. He is also an attorney and the owner and operator of K&B True Value, a 44+ year-old business and the last locally owned hardware store in Annapolis. He can be reached at: jared@annapolisward5.com.

Marc Rodriguez is Special Assistant to Alderman Littmann. He has assisted Alderman Littmann on Ward 5 and City issues generally since January 2016, as well as specifically identifying and addressing the challenges of underserved communities. Mr. Rodriguez has a degree in economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and works as Executive Director of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad. He can be reached at: marc@annapolisward5.com.

The Light House has served people affected by homelessness and poverty in Annapolis for over 20 years. The Light House is located at 10 Hudson Street, Annapolis, MD 21401, and can be reached at: info@annapolislighthouse.org.

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• Alderman Jared Littmann • Ward 5 • 912 Forest Drive • Annapolis, Maryland 21403 • 410 268-3939 •
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