Poor treatment of crime victims and their families by Baltimore police officers is common in a city where shootings and homicides occur daily, according to a report from a partnership between the city and the U.S. Justice Department’s National Public Safety Partnership to fight violent crime. “Many feel frustrated that there appears to be little evidence of significant positive change in the quality of relationships between [the police department] and those who feel least safe in Baltimore,” the report said. It noted that the poor relationship with the community continues even as the department has been under a federal consent decree to improve policing since 2017.
City officials announced the report’s findings on Friday and efforts to improve services for victims of violent crimes, the Baltimore Sun reports. “Victim services must be a priority in Baltimore’s public safety strategy because we know that every shooting or violent incident leaves behind a web of trauma — for the victim, as well as bystanders, families, neighbors, and even the perpetrators of violence,” said Mayor Brandon Scott. He, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and Shantay Jackson of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement promised more services to victims, including an expanded Victim Services Unit in the police department. The city will provide $8 million from American Rescue Plan funds for the initiatives. Expanded efforts will improve “crisis response, advocacy, therapy, wraparound services, and community awareness,” the city said. The police department faces a federal lawsuit by several shooting victims who claim police unconstitutionally seized and held their car keys, money and other items. Many victims have their personal property, such as a cellphone, taken from them. Then they often struggle to get their property back.