MPD: Annual Reports

Recently, we used the Desmonte Leonard manhunt as an excuse to give an overview of our local police department. It was nothing major, just a look at some of the civic leaders and a few of the MPD basics, attempting to be as honest as possible, while admitting the limitations of our knowledge.

In that post, we mentioned that the MPD has a section of its website called “Annual Reports.” Sadly, there has not been an annual report since 2009. And 2008 is listed but not hyperlinked on the site. That means if I want to look at the most recent “annual” public reports of my local police department, I’m stuck with reports from 2009 (three years ago) and 2007 (five years ago). What’s in ‘em? Let’s take a look! {Note: Feel free to download the PDFs and follow along at home … at least until they pull them down from the site!}

2007: A lovely year. The iPhone 2G is released. Seung-Hui Cho shoots up Virginia Tech, killing 32. The Dixie Chicks won a bunch of Grammy Awards, and George W. Bush is still President of the United States. Here in July of 2012, the fine year of 2007 is the second-most-recent year for which we can find an annual report from the Montgomery Police Department.

Art Baylor is the Chief during the heady days of 2007. Page 2 of the report offers the table of contents, along with four blurry photos, two of which are from the zoo. The page employs the font known as comic sans, which three years later would be employed by Dan Gilbert in a hilariously petulant public letter about LeBron James.

Page 3 is a letter from then-Chief Baylor to then-Mayor Bobby Bright. Baylor mentions having over 800 sworn officers, which contrasts with the figure given by current chief Kevin Murphy (510). Evidently, from January 2008 (the date of Baylor’s letter) until July 2012 (which is when I’m looking at Murphy’s webpage), the MPD lost 300-plus police officers. This is profoundly shocking. Evidently crime can decrease while laying off 300 police officers. And that’s important to note: Everyone says crime is decreasing.

Baylor lists several initiatives that I have never heard of: the Crime Reduction Team (CRT), the “Digital Patroller,” and “the Omega Crime Mapping System.” Do these programs still exist? Unclear.

Great Seal

The next page is numbered page 2, although it is the fourth page in the report, counting the cover. From here on out, we’ll use the numbering from the bottom of the pages of the report. This page is notable because it contains the “Great Seal of the City of Montgomery,” which we heard (from current Mayor Todd Strange) that the city has since discontinued. We are not so sure that this controversial seal has been fully retired, but it’s interesting to see it in an official city publication.

Page 3 is the org chart of the MPD. This is a useful document that helps the average citizen understand how the department is structured. Running a police department is tough work.

Page 4 contains actual stats for the police chaplain. I guess if you don’t document how many “direct contacts” you have, preaching to officers and such, you might get cut out of the budget. Wouldn’t want that. Cops need tax-funded “pastoral care and spiritual guidance,” that they can’t get from their own churches.

Page 5 shows that the ’06 MPD budget was $38.5 million, raised to $41.8 million in ’07. More on this below.

Page 8 suggests that in 2006, there were 28 murders handled by the detective division. In 2007? up to 46. This is not mentioned by Chief Baylor in his cheery introductory letter. Looking ahead to the ’09 report, it claims that there were 87 murders in 2008, and 83 in ’09. If I’m reading the numbers right, that’s a heck of a spike. Back to the ’07 report:

Page 9 suggests that $16,000 worth of livestock were reported stolen within MPD jurisdiction in ’06. This seems like a lot of livestock for a dense urban area. $4,500 worth was recovered. And if that’s shocking, nearly $27,000 worth of livestock was stolen in 2007, with none of it recovered. That is a lot of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and/or pigs.

Page 10 suggests that 39 arrests were made in ’07 at local schools. This trend is awful. Kids getting arrested at school is a travesty. Birmingham City Schools are being sued for actually using mace on students, so I guess we can be glad we aren’t doing that. Also note that 24 arrests were made for sodomy. Given Lawrence v. Texas, it would be interesting to know why arrests were made under Alabama’s anti-sodomy statute and not other sex abuse prohibitions.

Page 13: A surprising number of dogs (2,500) were picked up. Only 280 citations issued. What was the one animal tranquilized? How can they not tell us? I’m going to go ahead and assume it was a Komodo dragon.

Pages 14-15: District 4, which is up Federal Drive, had 23,584 service calls. The next highest number of calls was from District 10, at 16,913. What is going on in District 4 that caused them to call the cops 6,000 times more than the next highest district?

Page 19: Evidently, MPD still calls Asian people “Oriental.” Sigh.

Page 22: Seems that 22 people died in 2006 in traffic accidents, a total that skyrocketed in 2007 to 34. Increased texting while driving? Shouldn’t these totals go down from year to year as cars become safer? Unsurprisingly, it’s safest to be on the roads on Sundays and most dangerous on Fridays. The list of “most frequent accident” locations is a fantastic idea and should be heavily-circulated information.

Page 28: There are lots of caption-free photo montages in the report. While it probably makes sense to the officers reading the report, to civilians seeking a greater understanding of the police department, a ton of photographs with no captions is not all that helpful (or interesting).

The 2009 Report:

Gone is the sweet cover page with fireworks over the river. The ’09 report begins with a bunch of portraits and email addresses. The interesting thing here is that the ’09 chaplain made 309 direct contacts (in person). In ’07, the chaplain reported making 6,245. Are we to believe that Rev. Jackson made TWENTY times the number of visits that Rev. Morris made? What happened?

Also gone in the ’09 report are the helpful page numbers. Page 2 contains the budget figures. Using the ’07 report, we can create the following chart, showing the city’s spending on the MPD:

I guess the collapsing economy didn’t hit MPD all that much. The city had to cancel curbside recycling pickup, but when the economy cratered, the most that could be cut from MPD’s budget was a million bucks from ’08 to ’09. It seems likely that federal stimulus money (from ever-reviled Obama) came in to boost things in ’08. Making things extra bizarre is the letter from Baylor saying MPD had 800 sworn officers in 2008, and Chief Murphy’s current total of 510. The mayor recently said we have 524 sworn officers, which he says is the highest number in city history. Maybe gasoline costs went up faster than I’m calculating, but fortunately Montgomery is free of any professional journalists who’d pay attention to municipal budget issues.

Page 5: It’s notable that the value of stolen livestock has plummeted since ’06 and ’07. Also another mysterious space-filling photo montage is probably cool if you know the people in the pictures, but is otherwise incomprehensible.

Page 6: With only 24 arrests for sodomy in the ’07 report, ’09 figures show a sodomy epidemic of 68 arrests that year. What is going on with Montgomery-based sodomites?

Page 14: At first, there didn’t seem to be much to report about the value of drugs confiscated by MPD in 2009. $12.8 million in cocaine? Sounds reasonable. How much was it in ’07?

Holy crap! The 2007 report (on page 19) claims that MPD confiscated $371 million worth of cocaine in 2007. This is evidently more than a single typo. The total amount of drugs claimed confiscated? $372,823,395. Someone typed this out and published it. That total represents more in cocaine confiscated in Montgomery than the wealthiest state in the nation plans to spend on school construction and upgrades, a project that will employ 11,650 Marylanders. A news report from ’09 suggests that 100 kilos were grabbed in one bust, worth $10 million. How could they have possibly gotten $371 million worth of cocaine? Maybe somebody ought to proofread these reports once in a while.

It may also bear noting that in ’07 there were 433 SWAT training hours. In ’09? Merely 194. I guess the SWAT team got all the training it needed back in the day.

Pages 18-22: Five more full pages of captionless photo montages. The stats on arrests may not add up from year to year, but these annual reports sure are full of anonymous people getting plaques. Look, a baby! And a guy at his desk!

All in all, the reports are fun to look at. They raise as many questions as they answer, namely, why can’t the MPD figure out a way to put the report online every year. Or maybe they just stopped producing them. We have no idea. Still, when you are a taxpaying resident of a city, funding a $44 million police department, it’s good to know about the ways that your tax dollars are being used.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s