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Baltimore PD Teams With Schools to Boost Minority Recruiting

In a pilot project billed as a potential national prototype, the Baltimore Police Department created an internship program with two local, historically Black universities as part of a strategy to recruit more police officers of color and strengthen community relations, The Baltimore Sun reports. The Police Executive Research Forum sponsors the program, which pays a $10,000 stipend to each intern for the 10-week program. PERF plans to use the project as a model for a nationwide program, said PERF's executive director, Chuck Wexler.

Eight students and recent graduates from Coppin State and Morgan State universities have begun their summer internships. The internship will expose students to several different aspects of a police department. According to Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, one of the goals of the program is to rebuild trust by recruiting students from communities that are more likely to have had negative experiences with police. Police departments are facing growing pressure due to gun violence, worker shortages and struggles with reform. A 2017 probe by the Justice Department found Baltimore police engaging in unconstitutional behavior, especially when dealing with Black citizens. An increase in retirement and resignation, along with fewer people joining the department has caused a nationwide decrease in staffing in 2021. “Being a police officer today is not what it used to be,” Wexler said. Organizers hope to get young people to understand that policing consists of more than the negative encounters that get so much publicity, and to learn from the interns about how police can better serve their communities.


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