The Baltimore Police Department has a new initiative called SMART policing to be more efficient amid persistent staffing shortages and rising gun violence, the Baltimore Sun reports. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced the initiative Wednesday. SMART policing stands for "strategic management and alternative response tactics." He said the goal is to decrease violent crime by freeing up sworn officers time to focus more on proactive patrols, community policing and emergency calls. Officials said that 80 percent of police calls for service are non-emergencies.
Much of the plan involves expanding existing practices, including a pilot program launched last year to dispatch social workers to behavioral health calls and the department’s telephone reporting unit, which allows people to report certain crimes — such as theft or burglary — over the phone or online. Harrison said parts of the plan will involve staffing by civilians so more sworn officers can be on the street. Harrison said the initiative will allow officers to focus more on preventing and responding to crime, something consistently sought by residents. “We hope to have a deterrent effect,” he said, cautioning that simply having more police officers on the street won’t address the root causes of violence.