T.J. Smith


T.J. Smith
Chief, Media Relations
Baltimore Police Department
Baltimore, Maryland

Challenge

Wanting to improve and expand public outreach, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) looked for new ways to increase communication in the wake of a 2017 U.S. Department of Justice consent decree with the BPD that encouraged more transparency.

Solution

In January 2017 Baltimore became the largest U.S. police department to launch a mobile app to promote two-way public communication. It allows citizens to submit anonymous crime tips, geo-locate crime scenes, receive crime alerts, and call 911. The app also is a gateway to BPD’s crime data, Facebook and Twitter pages, and state court records.

MobilePD, Inc., which has created similar apps for police forces in Austin, St. Louis and Toronto, developed it for $10,000. BPD also paid $20,000 for a two-year software subscription, and will pay $15,000 annually after the first two years of operation. A 24-hour watch center monitors tips and responds as needed.

Lessons Learned

Check out what peer police departments are doing in terms of apps to capture best practices. [Editor’s Note: That’s what this newsletter tries to help you do!] Find out what the community wants before launching app. Set aside plenty of time for adequate procurement and development.

T.J.’s Job

Oversees BPD’s communications staff of eight, and directs all media relations activities for the department, which is the eighth largest police force in the U.S.

T.J.’s Background

A native of Baltimore, T.J. came to the BPD in 2015 after 18 years directing media relations in nearby Anne Arundel County. Graduate of Johns Hopkins (BS, ’07; MS, ‘09) and Washington State (MA, ’16).

Startling Fact

Can taste a dish once and recreate it perfectly without a recipe.

Connect with T.J.!

Facebook: @TJSmithMedia
Twitter: @TJSmithMedia
Instagram: @TJSmithMedia

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