Awardees standing in front of a Christmas tree

Awards recognize innovative co-responder team and robust training division.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore Police Department (UMBPD) received state recognition for two proactive crime prevention programs during the 2022 Annual Governor’s Crime Prevention Awards. The ceremony, held in Annapolis, Md., on Thursday, honored both the UMBPD’s training division and co-responder team for “outstanding crime prevention efforts that had a significant impact on the prevention of crime throughout Maryland.”

The co-responder team is comprised of the UMBPD and its Community Outreach and Support Team (COAST); University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMSSW) social workers and interns with The Collaborative; returning citizens (SONS of Phoenix and the PEACE Team) — formerly incarcerated persons who are credible messengers within their communities; HeartSmiles and Healing Youth Alliance community youth organizations; and community partners, including Baltimore Market Center Association and Downtown Partnerships.

Forming in August 2021, the co-responder team was initially brought together to address significant needs for vulnerable populations surrounding UMB. COAST’s outreach and intervention officer works with UMSSW interns to provide additional resources and case management for those experiencing hardship, such as poverty, mental illness, homelessness, and substance use. The collaboration between a university police department and social work interns is the first of its kind in the nation.

Over time, the team expanded to the Eutaw Street Corridor, including the following goals: (1) stakeholders on Eutaw Street are safe and thriving; (2) Eutaw Street is clean; and (3) investments are made in business on Eutaw Street.

Since December 2021, the team has had 1,798 engagements and met 286 client goals, including 99 job placements, 11 shelter placements, 24 permanent housing, 65 vital records, 44 drug treatment placements, 12 job training, and 65 basic living supplies. On average, they have also seen a 33 percent decrease in open-air drug sales since March 2022. 

The co-responder team was one of just three 2022 awardees at the Governor’s Crime Prevention Awards. This partnership encourages positive progress in the communities we serve and seeks innovative solutions to longstanding challenges.

The UMBPD’s training division was honored at this year’s awards ceremony as a 2021 awardee. While all Maryland police departments are required to meet 18 hours of annual training, each UMB police officer completed at leas 68 hours of training in 2021. As a department, the UMBPD completed 4,996 hours of training in 2021.

This extensive mandatory training is critical to the department’s success as a proactive, community-oriented police department. Classroom and hands-on knowledge enables officers to be better prepared and to approach each situation with confidence.

These robust training requirements include: crisis intervention team and homeless outreach training; implicit bias; anti-bias training for law enforcement; pro-LGBTQ+ policing; conflict and dispute resolution; mental health first aid; trauma-informed policing; de-escalation and minimizing use-of-force (aligning with the PERF 30 guiding principles with a focus on the sanctity of human life, de-escalation, critical decision-making, increased transparency, and accountability); red folder (assisting students in distress); and much more.

Training focuses not only on skills-based learning, but also on how to manage stress. Officers are encouraged to seek help when coping with stress and trauma, which has historically been stigmatized among first responders.

The training division’s extensive programs work with community and University partners to learn about the challenges of the past so the UMBPD can understand our communities better and bring understanding and compassion into every interaction. The department’s focus on continuous learning and improvement enables officers to be proactive in the community, build relationships, and provide resources to vulnerable populations.

Pictured left to right: Lt. Todd Ring, UMBPD, Training; Lt. Matthew Johnson, UMBPD, COAST; Ryan Haynes, UMSSW, The Collaborative, outreach specialist; Cpl. Hazel Lewis, UMBPD, COAST; Assistant Chief Tonya Bell, UMBPD, Support Services; Eric Brown, PEACE Team, founder and director; Dr. Kyla Liggett-Creel, UMSSW, The Collaborative, director.

Not pictured: Chief Thomas Leone, UMBPD; Assistant Chief Chad Ellis, UMBPD, Operations; Director Vanessa Harrington, UMBPD, Security and Compliance; Cpl. Yale Partlow, UMBPD, COAST; Mariel Pfister, UMSSW, The Collaborative, assistant director; Jeremiah Savage, UMSSW, The Collaborative, student worker; Kelly Sparks and Angela Perry, SONS of Phoenix; Marvin Garner; and many more!

We want to thank UMB leadership, especially Dr. Bruce Jarrell and Dr. Dawn Rhodes, for their unwavering support of UMB’s innovative co-responder initiative.  

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