Baltimore Police News
After a two-month delay, Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings Blake has honored a pledge to post online the outcomes of all civil lawsuits alleging police brutality and other misconduct.
To a searchable database is now listed on the city Law Department’s website. So far, residents can review outcomes from 11 lawsuits concluded since Nov. 21. The city paid a total of $147,000 in eight settlements, but did not acknowledge wrongdoing in those cases. Judges ruled in favor of officers in three other cases.
Still, the database doesn’t contain as much information as the mayor’s staff promised in November. At that time, officials said the database would mirror records the administration sends to the Board of Estimates, which must approve payouts higher than $25,000. Those summaries typically contain two or three pages of information detailing an officer’s version of the arrest.
That will change, said Kevin Harris, Rawlings-Blake’s spokesman. He described the database as “a work in progress” and said officials are exploring ways to add more information.
Move forward, it will become more robust,” he said. “This is a step in the right direction. We’ve made a commitment to be as transparent as possible.”
The move is part of a series of changes made in response to a six-month Baltimore Sun investigation of police misconduct. The investigation found the city has paid about $5.7 million since 2011 in lawsuits alleging police brutality and other misconduct — and sparked a U.S. Department of Justice review of the Police Department.
After the investigation was published, some members of the City Council said they weren’t aware the problem was so widespread.
Baltimore police horse bit hand of child in wheelchair, lawsuit says
The investigation revealed that police leaders, city attorneys and other top officials were not keeping track of officers who repeatedly faced such allegations. The Sun’s investigation also showed that city policies helped shield the scope and impact of alleged police brutality from the public. For example, settlement agreements include a clause that prohibits injured residents from making any public statement — or talking to the news media — about the incidents.
The city is exploring whether to abolish the clause requiring residents to remain silent after accepting a settlement.
Man dies in officer-involved shooting in west Baltimore
Man with knife wouldn’t obey commands, police say
UPDATED 11:11 PM EST Jan 24, 2015
BALTIMORE —Police are investigating a fatal officer-involved shooting Saturday night in the 1900 block of McHenry Street in west Baltimore.
Some areas under winter storm watch
Thousands dip into Bay for Polar Bear…
City officer shoots man after chase,…
Possible measles case in a 12…
Threatening note discovered at Rising…
Authorities say the deadly encounter happened while the officer was on routine patrol. Someone flagged down the officer, saying a man in his 20s was threatening to stab people.
According to police, when the officer located the man, the subject refused to drop the knife and obey commands. The officer shot him once in the chest.
Authorities said the officer, who has been on the force for about two years, made the appropriate notifications and then tried to help.
“This is indicative of a couple of things, one is, the officer being at the right place, the officer courageously confronting an individual who was armed and unfortunately, individiuals who, in spite of an officer being in full uniform and giving very clear and precise directions, their refusing to follow those directions in what could be a a very deadly situation,” Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said.
Police say the man received immediate medical treatment but later died at the hospital.
The officer has been placed on administrative duty.
Police Commissioner Batts says police need to tackle racism to build trust
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts told a national task force on policing Friday that law enforcement leaders need to “tackle racism” in the community and broaden their roles to focus on issues such as literacy, mentoring and mental illness.
“We need to learn to address crime through social justice as a whole,” Batts said at the meeting in Phoenix, Ariz. “Leadership should be focused not just on crime-fighting, but tackling racism.”
Batts told the task force, formed by President Barack Obama in December in response to unrest in Ferguson, Mo., that while his department has improved “every metric” of how it is judged, few recognize it because there is little trust. He pointed to a “visceral hatred of the Police Department.”
He said racial issues hold the city back.
“When I go to Baltimore, on the East Coast, I’m dealing with 1950s-level black-and-white racism,” he said. “It’s taken a step back. Everything’s either black or everything’s white, and we’re dealing with that as a community.”
Through a spokesman, Batts declined to elaborate on the comment.
Batts said that on the West Coast, where he is from and spent 30 years as a police officer, there was a greater focus on diversity.
Obama created the national panel after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Missouri by a white police officer, who was cleared of wrongdoing. The panel is exploring ways to build public trust and promote reductions in crime; the meeting was streamed online.
Reading from prepared remarks, Batts described efforts to reform Baltimore’s Police Department, highlighting the importance of foot patrols in building relationships and saying that he has “eradicated” stop-and-frisk policies.
His remarks echoed those he has made in recent weeks, when he called his agency too “one-dimensional” as an enforcement agency when it also needs to address the economic and social issues behind crime.
“People kept telling me as I toured the city that kids have nothing to do in the summertime,” he said recently. “They don’t even have food. They don’t even have anything to eat. How can you address that?”
Batts has noted that police created a Police Explorer athletic camp for kids last year staffed by commanders and officers who refereed games and worked with the youths on character building. About 150 underprivileged youths attended and were fed two meals a day during the camp, he said. Batts said he plans to double attendance this year.
He also said he has urged officers to join a city literacy and mentoring program, in which they read to first- through third-graders. His goal is to have more employees participate than any city department or agency.
Speaking to the panel, Batts said that as a police chief, he has a “bully pulpit” to start conversations about “racism, sexism, literacy, mentoring, mental illness, character building.”
Task force members asked Batts about maintaining officers’ positive attitudes in the face of mounting criticism and a skeptical public.
Batts, making reference to the country “going to war over misinformation” and “priests who’ve been pedophiles,” said people have become more cynical and police will be increasingly questioned.
“It’s not going to get better — it’s going to get worse,” he said. “So we have to build employees who understand what that customer base is going to become.”
Batts brought up the recent shooting of a city police officer, Andrew Groman, and Batts’ remarks outside of the hospital that night in which he questioned whether people would march to support officers like they were marching against them in protest.
“That caused an atom bomb in my community, making that statement,” Batts said. “However, I got notes from around the country, from around the world — moms, dads, wives, sons who have lost their loved ones.”
“At some point in time, we have to move away from just ‘Black Lives Matter’ … but ‘All Lives Matter.’ There needs to be a reverence for all life, across the board. If you can’t make that statement on both sides, we have a bigger issue.”
But Richmond, Calif., Police Chief Chris Magnus, a member of Batts’ panel, disagreed with that framing of the issue, saying police leaders shouldn’t diminish the sentiment voiced about deaths of black people in confrontations with police.
“We have to get away from the idea that it’s a ‘pick one or the other’ kind of contest, which I think leads us nowhere,” Magnus said.
Batts also was asked about the use of community “intermediaries” to build trust. Batts said he reaches out to pastors in neighborhoods to “give us credibility.”
Previous Baltimore police commissioners have discussed the need for police to play a larger social role. Thomas C. Frazier, also a West Coast transplant who was commissioner from 1994 to 1999, famously billed himself as a “social worker with a gun.”
But when Edward T. Norris took over, he said “there are social workers in the city. There are other agencies that provide jobs and other services. We’re the police.”
Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who was commissioner from 2007 to 2012, cut arrests significantly and promoted community outreach, but also cautioned about the need for police to “stay in our lanes.”
Cincinnati Police Chief Jeff Blackwell said that as police become “more guardian-like and less warrior-like,” they can fix poor relationships with their communities and be their own messengers.
“In some communities where it’s really bad, you need leverage — you need ‘lever-pullers,’ ” he said. “I don’t want that in my city. I want to be the person that is connected enough to the community where I don’t have to leverage a relationship with someone else so I can come somewhere and talk to people and have my message be received.
“I don’t think for a minute anyone in the room thinks people in urban cores don’t really want our help,” Blackwell said. “The problem has become over the years the disenfranchisement that they’ve experienced due to police misconduct or perceived police misconduct.”
The situation has “created barriers where people will live with the crime rather than call the police and not know what kind of service they’re going to receive,” he said.
Batts said police are making up for decades of well-meaning but misguided strategies, including “mass arrests.”
“We thought we were doing God’s work. We thought we were making a difference,” Batts said. “We obliterated communities. … We have to find a new way to be a part of the solution.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George contributed to this article.
Dan Aykroyd to Make Donation to Trust Fund for Slain Officer Robert Wilson’s Kids
By Vince Lattanzio
Actor Dan Aykroyd at the Philadelphia Flower Show on Friday.
Updated at 10:18 PM EST on Friday, Mar 6, 2015
Actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd says he’ll make a donation to a fund set up for the children of slain Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson III.
The “Saturday Night Live” and “Ghostbusters” star made the announcement during an appearance at the Philadelphia Flower Show on Friday. He was at the show promoting his vodka, Crystal Head.
Trust Fund for Family of Officer Robert Wilson III
Wilson died Thursday after being gunned down during an attempted robbery at a North Philadelphia GameStop store. The 8-year veteran assigned to the 22nd District was in the store doing a security check and was in the process of buying a game for his 8-year-old son when the gunmen entered.
Police called Wilson a hero who drew away fire from store employees and continued to shoot at both suspects, even after being hit. Two brothers, 30-year-old Carlton Hipps and 26-year-old Ramone Williams, have been charged with the officer’s murder.
Hero Officer Died Protecting Innocent Bystanders
A trust fund was set up Friday for the 30-year-old officer’s two sons, the 8-year-old and a 1-year-old. The fund is being managed by the Police and Fire Federal Credit Union. Donations can be made in person at the following branches:
901 Arch Street
7604 City Avenue
8500 Henry Avenue
Leo Mall, Byberry and Bustleton Avenue
7500 Castor Avenue
3300 Grant Avenue
Checks can be mailed and made payable to:
The Robert Wilson III Family Memorial Trust Fund
Police and Fire Federal Credit Union
901 Arch Street
Philadelphia PA, 19107
Published at 7:35 PM EST on Mar 6, 2015
Officer Shot Man After Police Say
“She Feared for Life in Struggle”
A Baltimore police officer feared for her life when she shot a suspect during a struggle in Northwest Baltimore, police said Friday.
Police commanders said they believe the officer’s actions Thursday were justified. The suspect was shot in the abdomen and was recovering Friday after surgery, police said.
“When we pull the trigger, that is the last option,” said Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez.
It was the second time in a month that a Baltimore officer shot a suspect. The other incident occurred Dec. 28 in East Baltimore.
Police said officers encountered the suspect about 9:05 p.m. Thursday after they saw a van with its headlights off in the 4400 block of Reisterstown Road. Police tried to pull the van over, but it fled and then crashed near a senior center in the 4300 block of Pimlico Road.
Police said the driver and two occupants jumped out of the vehicle and ran. A group of officers gave chase, and a juvenile was arrested without a struggle.
Another officer caught up to a suspect, who began to resist arrest, Rodriguez said.
“We have reason to believe the man turned on the officer,” he said.
The officer felt overpowered and had no choice but to shoot the man, Rodriguez said. The suspect was described as 6 feet, 2 inches tall, weighing 235 pounds.
The man, who was shot once in the abdomen, escaped before police found him wounded on the porch of a vacant home on Loyola Northway.
Rodriguez said the man was a “documented dangerous individual” with a “violent past.”
“An officer is allowed as a last resort to defend themselves, their partner or the community,” he said.
The van’s third occupant was arrested after a “minor” struggle, Rodriguez said. Police say he was struck with a Taser. No officers were injured.
The names of the three suspects were not released because they haven’t been charged, police said Friday. The name of the officer won’t be released for 48 hours, as is Baltimore police policy. She was placed on paid leave while the department’s Force Investigation Team reviews the shooting.
Part of the incident was captured on a CitiWatch surveillance camera, police said.
Baltimore police last shot a suspect Dec. 28 in East Baltimore. Officers responded to the 3000 block of Monument St., where they said Michael John Johansen, 45, was burglarizing a corner store. Johansen came out of the store holding something “shiny,” police said. When he did not obey police commands, an officer shot him once in the upper torso.
Police did not say at the time whether Johansen had a weapon and said this month they could not comment further on the case because it was being reviewed by prosecutors.
Johansen survived after surgery. Court records show he faces multiple charges of burglary and failure to obey a law enforcement officer. No weapons charges were listed in the court records.
The Police Department also recently posted documents online detailing another officer-involved shooting on Jan. 13, 2014, in which an officer shot a suspect who had already shot himself in the head.
The report obscures the names of the officers and civilians involved, but the agency previously identified the officer who fired the shot as Detective Warren Benn and the victim as Perry Webb, 24.
The incident unfolded in the 1800 block of E. Lanvale St. as two officers from the Special Enforcement Section pulled over a vehicle after watching someone climb into the car who appeared to be concealing an object, police said.
After Benn placed one of the passengers in handcuffs, another officer said he saw Webb in the car holding a gun. According to the investigative report, the officer yelled “gun,” took out his service weapon and took cover.
Police say Webb discharged the gun once, and Benn fired at Webb, striking him in his side.
When other officers arrived, they said Webb had gunshot wounds to his side and head, and was still holding the gun in his hand. An autopsy determined he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
The second man in the vehicle, identified in court records as 26-year-old Adam Williams, told detectives that he believed Webb had a weapon because he was “seeking revenge for the death of his cousin,” according to the report. A backpack found in the car had an additional handgun inside, police said.
Williams was convicted of a handgun violation and sentenced to one year in jail.
The report posted on the Baltimore Police Department’s website says a “Use of Force review board” found the shooting adhered to policy because of an imminent threat. They also found that the traffic stop was conducted properly. After the shooting, Benn completed a training program and “was able to display his ability to perform within the scope of departmental use of force policies,” the report says.
Baltimore police change work schedule
Officers to work 4 days per week, 10 hours per day
BALTIMORE —Baltimore City police are changing tactics in how they schedule officers in an effort to make officers’ jobs more efficient and city streets safer.
Police said the new plan will give the department flexibility to rapidly move officers to areas where crime is occurring.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the strategy behind the Baltimore City Police Department’s new public safety deployment plan is to get more officers on the streets where and when they are needed.
“Under this new schedule, Commissioner (Anthony) Batts will have the power to quickly and more efficiently flood neighborhoods experiencing increased violence. He will be able to more effectively implement strategies that allow our police officers to spend more time getting to know our residents,” Rawlings-Blake said.
The Police Department’s schedule is expanding from three to four shifts with officers, mostly on patrol, working four days a week, 10 hours a day.
The police commissioner said it’s a more efficient way to fight crime, saying it’s driven by calls for service. Batts said the plan is designed to have overlap, with officers always on the streets. The plan will also reduce overtime and create more community policing.
“That means officers have the ability now to get out of their car, to go to community meetings, engage with the community, and the community has made it very clear time and again, ‘We want walking beats,'” Batts said.
Batts said he thinks the plan will give officers more time with their families and that will improve morale. But whenever police make a schedule change, the commissioner said he knows criminals take notice.
“Our strategy is based on throwing them off constantly, so we’re changing our strategies on a regular basis. We’re not going to dramatically change the schedule, but what it does allow us to do is move smaller pieces around. We’ll have more resources independently to do more things with, so I think that will be a positive for us,” Batts said.
Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police President Gene Ryan and members of the Community Relations Council said they are also supportive of the plan, saying more officers will be on the streets during heavy-crime periods.
For the first time in the Police Department’s history, officers were given an opportunity to choose their daily work schedule through a bidding process. Each officer’s work schedule was awarded based on seniority, according to the mayor’s office.
“The new schedule is a direct result of our new union contract,” Ryan said. “The negotiations required to bring this new contract to fruition were often very difficult; however, each struggle strengthened the resolve to bring us to this point.”
The new plan takes effect Sunday.
WHAT FERGUSON MEANS FOR AMERICA’S POLICE
Every police officer in America knows one thing – it could have been him, or her.
It could have been him or her, instead of Darren Wilson, who pulled that trigger on Michael Brown, or some such similar young man. Every cop in America knows that, in return for choosing a career in law enforcement, the rules of the road are now that, at any minute, it could all be over and you could become hated and condemned all across the country. No one would have your back, even the president could denounce you.
Because you defended yourself.
In a twist on biting the hand that feeds you, we are instead tying the hands that defends us. We are sending them out, and waiting for the first chance to gut them.
It is an incomprehensible act of ingratitude.
All across American law enforcement, officers know that the new reality facing them when they pull their gun is: By defending myself, I could be condemning myself. Take Darren Wilson, a good police officer on routine patrol. He’s coming back from a call and has brief contact with two individuals. Nothing comes of it until he moves a ways down the block and gets a radio description of a wanted individual matching one of the young men he’s just seen. Rolling back up on the two individuals, the larger of them (Michael Brown) lunges into the driver’s window of the squad car and begins assaulting Officer Wilson. Michael Brown then tries to take the officer’s gun. The officer gets a round off, Michael Brown attempts to flee, and then charges at the officer, twice, before being shot to death.
In the mind of witnesses and Darren Wilson!
Michael Brown was set to attack and was an immediate threat to the life of Officer Wilson. So Officer Wilson did what his training taught him to do. He did what instinct, morality and the laws of men command him to do, he defended himself, and his life has been ruined for it. His career is over, his family is threatened, his name is destroyed, he has been vilified across the country, and by the nation’s most prominent voices. People have rioted demanding imprisonment for him, and there have been countless threats on his life. His life, as he knew it, is over.
Because he was a cop and he defended himself!
An entire society has forgotten that Darren Wilson is not the perpetrator of a crime, he is the victim of a crime. Likewise, it has been forgotten that Darren Wilson was an officer of the law with a duty to act, and that he was on patrol that day in the name and service of the people. It is dispiriting to see how instantly the people have turned on him and his profession. You get up in the morning and put on a uniform that carries with it the obligation to potentially die in the service of your community, to put yourself between the good people and whatever species of hell pops up, and then, when you are literally fighting for your life and the community’s protection, nobody has your back. Everybody curses your name. Millions hate you. Much of the nation turns against you. In the matter of some 20 seconds.
Damned if you do, Dead if you don’t
Every Officer in America wakes up every day knowing that that could be his fate. By the happenstance of random probability, the unpredictability of criminality, some wild hare seizing upon who knows what thug, and that could be you. It wouldn’t matter who you were, or what good you have done, how many years you had served, or what you had made of your life and to what good cause you had dedicated it. Al Sharpton would be yelling your name, mobs would be burning your effigy, and the president of the United States would be doing what he has been doing since he took officer (siding with criminal, acting as if you and your brothers and sisters are acting stupidly) while undercutting your profession.
And who wants that?
What kind of person, having seen on the nation’s newscasts the destruction of Darren Wilson, wants to risk that? How many law enforcement officers will think of the danger associated with their thankless job, see the risk facing themselves and their family, recognize that it is completely unfair and wrong, and quit, or not perform their job, in a way that will truly protect us from the criminal element?
How many will lay down their badge, and their career, and just walk away?
Probably none. Because that’s the kind of people most of them are. They press on. They do their duty. They don’t quit. That’s who they are.
More at issue is: Who are we?
Are we the kind of society that looks on and does nothing, or are we the kind of society that values law enforcement, what it does, and vowl to have their backs? Or are we the kind of society that can look at the matter in Ferguson and push back the anti-cop prejudices, and honestly consider the situation of Darren Wilson?
Can we recognize the injustice of his situation?
Not that he wasn’t prosecuted, but that he was ever suspected. That an officer of the law, the victim of a violent and felonious attack, can be forced into a fight for his life, and then be condemned for winning.
Would society have preferred he die?
We all know that if the cop had died, instead of the guy who attacked him, that none of us would have ever heard of this. The president wouldn’t have commented, the nation wouldn’t have noticed, no one would have given a damn.
Dead cop, no problem. – Dead thug, Raise Holy Hell!
Every cop knows that, and carries that sad realization 24 hours a day. The president said we need to train our police better. Maybe we need to train our society better. Maybe we should train the Michael Browns of the world to respect the law; maybe we should train the rest of us to respect our law enforcers, and have their backs. At least we could work to better understand the horrible risk and reality Ferguson creates for them. Because every cop knows today could be his day. How would work, what risks would you take, what precautions would you except.
– by Bob Lonsberry © 2014
The Thin Blue Line; Get in Line, or Get Out
The Ferguson Fraud
The bitter irony of the Michael Brown case is that if he had actually put his hands up and said don’t shoot, he would almost certainly be alive today. His family would have been spared an unspeakable loss, and Ferguson, Missouri wouldn’t have experienced multiple bouts of rioting, including the torching of at least a dozen businesses the night it was announced that Officer Darren Wilson wouldn’t be charged with a crime.
Instead, the credible evidence (i.e., the testimony that doesn’t contradict itself or the physical evidence) suggests that Michael Brown had no interest in surrendering. After committing an act of petty robbery at a local business, he attacked Officer Wilson when he stopped him on the street. Brown punched Wilson when the officer was still in his patrol car and attempted to take his gun from him.
The first shots were fired within the car in the struggle over the gun. Then, Michael Brown ran. Even if he hadn’t put his hands up, but merely kept running away, he would also almost certainly be alive today. Again, according to the credible evidence, he turned back and rushed Wilson. The officer shot several times, but Brown kept on coming until Wilson killed him.
This is a terrible tragedy. It isn’t a metaphor for police brutality or race repression or anything else, and never was. Aided and abetted by a compliant national media, the Ferguson protestors spun a dishonest or misinformed version of what happened—Michael Brown murdered in cold blood while trying to give up—into a chant (“hands up, don’t shoot”) and then a mini-movement.
When the facts didn’t back their narrative, they dismissed the facts and retreated into paranoid suspicion of the legal system. It apparently required more intellectual effort than almost any liberal could muster even to say, “You know, I believe policing in America is deeply unjust, but in this case the evidence is murky and not enough to indict, let alone convict anyone of a crime.”
They preferred to charge that the grand jury process was rigged, because St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch didn’t seek an indictment of Wilson and allowed the grand jury to hear all the evidence and make its own decision. This, Chris Hayes of MSNBC deemed so removed from normal procedure that it’s unrecognizable.
It’s unusual, yes, but not unheard of for prosecutors to present a case to a grand jury without a recommendation to indict. Regardless, who could really object to a grand jury hearing everything in such a sensitive case? If any of the evidence were excluded that, surely, would have been the basis of other howls of an intolerably stacked deck.
It’s a further travesty, according to the Left, that Officer Wilson was allowed to testify to the grand jury. Never mind that it is standard operating procedure. As former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out, guilty parties usually don’t testify because they have to do it without their lawyer present and anything they say can be used against them.
It is also alleged that the prosecutor McCulloch is biased because his father was a cop who was killed by a criminal. Follow this argument though to its logical conclusion and McCulloch would be unable to handle almost all cases, because of his engrained bias against criminality.
Finally, there is the argument that Wilson should have been indicted so there could be a trial “to determine the facts.” Realistically, if a jury of Wilson’s peers didn’t believe there was enough evidence to establish probable cause to indict him, there was no way a jury of his peers was going to convict him of a crime, which requires the more stringent standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.
Besides, we don’t try people for crimes they almost certainly didn’t commit just to satisfy a mob that will throw things at the police and burn down local businesses if it doesn’t get its way. If the grand jury had given into the pressure from the streets and indicted as an act of appeasement, the mayhem most likely would have only been delayed until the inevitable acquittal in a trial.
The agitators of Ferguson have proven themselves proficient at destroying other people’s property, no matter what the rationale. This summer, they rioted when the police response was “militarized” and rioted when the police response was un-militarized. Local businesses like the beauty-supply shops Beauty Town (hit repeatedly) and Beauty World (burned on Monday night) have been targeted for the offense of existing, not to mention employing people and serving customers.
Liberal commentators come back again and again to the fact that Michael Brown was unarmed and that, in the struggle between the two, Officer Wilson only sustained bruises to his face, or what Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo calls an “irritated cheek.” The subtext is that if only Wilson had allowed Brown to beat him up and perhaps take his gun, things wouldn’t have had to escalate.
There is good reason for a police officer to be in mortal fear in the situation Officer Wilson faced, though. In upstate New York last March, a police officer responded to a disturbance call at an office, when suddenly a disturbed man pummeled the officer as he was attempting to exit his vehicle and then grabbed his gun and shot him dead. The case didn’t become a national metaphor for anything.
Ferguson, on the other hand, has never lacked for media coverage, although the narrative of a police execution always seemed dubious and now has been exposed as essentially a fraud. “Hands up, don’t shoot” is a good slogan. If only it was what Michael Brown had done last August.
Judge Threatens Detective with Contempt for Declining to Reveal Cellphone Tracking Methods
Baltimore prosecutors withdrew key evidence in a robbery case Monday rather than reveal details of the cellphone tracking technology police used to gather it.
The surprise turn in Baltimore Circuit Court came after a defense attorney pressed a city police detective to reveal how officers had tracked his client.
City police Det. John L. Haley, a member of a specialized phone tracking unit, said officers did not use the controversial device known as a stingray. But when pressed on how phones are tracked, he cited what he called a “nondisclosure agreement” with the FBI.
“You don’t have a nondisclosure agreement with the court,” Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams replied. Williams threatened to hold Haley in contempt if he did not respond. Prosecutors decided to withdraw the evidence instead.
The tense exchange during a motion to suppress evidence in the robbery trial of 16-year-old Shemar Taylor was the latest confrontation in a growing campaign by defense attorneys and advocates for civil liberties nationwide to get law enforcement to provide details of their phone tracking technology, and how and when they use it.
Law enforcement officials in Maryland and across the country say they are prohibited from discussing the technology at the direction of the federal government, which has argued that knowledge of the devices would jeopardize investigations.
“Courts are slowly starting to grapple with these issues,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who is tracking stingray cases. “What we’re talking about is basic information about a very commonly used police tool, but because of the extreme secrecy that police have tried to invoke, there are not many court decisions about stingrays.”
Defense attorney Joshua Insley still believes that police used a stingray to find Taylor. He cited a letter in which prosecutors said they were prohibited by the Department of Justice from disclosing information about methods used in their investigation.
The portable device was developed for the military to help zero in on cellphones. It mimics a cellphone tower to force nearby phones to connect to it.
Records shows that the Baltimore Police Department purchased a stingray for $133,000 in 2009.
Some critics say the use of such technology might be appropriate, with court approval, to help law enforcement locate a suspect. But in the secrecy surrounding its use, they say, it’s not always clear that law enforcement officials have secured the necessary approval, or stayed within their bounds.
They also express concern for the privacy of other cellphones users whose data are caught up in a search.
In the case before the court Monday, two teens are accused of robbing a Papa John’s pizza delivery driver at gunpoint in April.
Police say phone records show that the phone that was used to call in the delivery was also used to make and receive hundreds of calls to and from Taylor’s phone. Police believe the first phone belonged to Taylor’s co-defendant. They say Taylor confessed after he was arrested.
Taylor is being tried as an adult. The other suspect is being tried as a juvenile.
In court Monday, the robbery detective who prepared the warrant to search Taylor’s home testified that members of the department’s Advanced Technical Team did a “ride-by” — described in court papers as “sophisticated technical equipment” — to determine one of the phones was inside the home. Detective Alan Savage said he did not know what technology or techniques the unit employs.
The defense then called Haley to the stand. He said police can use data from the cellphone companies to locate phones in real time.
Insley asked Haley whether police can ascertain a phone’s location “independently,” without the help of a phone company. Haley said yes.
When asked how, he balked.
“I wouldn’t be able to get into that,” Haley said.
Insley tried again later. Haley responded that police can get GPS location data from phone companies.
“Then there’s equipment we would use that I’m not going to discuss that would aid us in that investigation,” Haley said.
Williams, the judge, instructed Haley to answer the question. Haley invoked the nondisclosure agreement.
“I can’t. I’m sorry. I can’t,” Haley said.
Williams called Insley’s question “appropriate,” and threatened to hold Haley in contempt if he did not answer.
Haley demurred again, and Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick R. Seidel conferred with other prosecutors in court to observe the hearing.
Finally, Seidel said prosecutors would drop all evidence found during the search of the home — including, authorities have said, a .45-caliber handgun and the cellphone. The prosecutor said the state would continue to pursue the charges.
Wessler, of the ACLU, said Williams was right to ignore the nondisclosure agreement with the FBI.
“You can’t contract out of constitutional disclosure obligations,” Wessler said. “A secret written agreement does not invalidate the Maryland public records law [and] does not invalidate due process requirements of giving information to a criminal defendant.”
Attorneys say they have suspected for years that police were employing secret methods to track cellphones. But only recently have they begun to find what they believe are clear examples.
Police and prosecutors in another case ran into a similar problem in September, when they were asked to reveal how a cellphone was tracked.
Sgt. Scott Danielczyk, another member of the Advanced Technical Team, testified in that home invasion case — also before Judge Williams — that police used data from a court order to track a cellphone to the general area of the 1400 block of E. Fayette St.
Danielczyk and three other members of the unit were tasked to “facilitate finding it,” he testified, and determined the phone was in the possession of someone on a bus.
Williams asked how Danielczyk concluded the phone was being carried by the suspect.
“Um, we had information that he had the property on him,” the officer said.
“This kind of goes into Homeland Security issues, your honor,” Danielczyk said.
“If it goes into Homeland Security issues, then the phone doesn’t come in,” Williams said. “I mean, this is simple. You can’t just stop someone and not give me a reason.”
In that case, too, the phone evidence is no longer in play. Prosecutors are proceeding without it.
Frank William Grunder, 96, City Police Lieutenant
Frank William Grunder, a retired Baltimore police lieutenant who ran the department’s polygraph lab, died of kidney failure Saturday at Anne Arundel Medical Center. The Linthicum resident was 96, and the father of a slain city police sergeant.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Fort Avenue, he graduated in 1926 from Calvert Hall College High School, where he played tennis and football. As a young man, Lieutenant Grunder rowed for the old Arundel Rowing Club in the Patapsco River and was an alternate for the 1932 Olympic games held in Los Angeles.
He joined the Police Department in 1938 and was assigned to the criminal investigation division. He earned a law degree in 1943 from the Eastern School of Law, and was a 1952 graduate of the FBI National Academy.
He later worked in homicide and the crime lab and, from its inception in 1955 until his 1971 retirement, ran the polygraph unit.
“During the first month of operation in 1955, I administered two tests,” he told a reporter for The Evening Sun in 1968. “Last month alone, we administered close to 100.”
Lieutenant Grunder was a past president of the Arundel Optimist Club and lieutenant governor of the Maryland Chapter of the Optimist.
A son, Sgt. Frank W. Grunder Jr., head of the department’s escapee and apprehension unit, was off duty and out with his wife and three young children Aug. 1, 1974, when he spotted a bank robbery suspect and was killed in a shoot-out.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9 a.m. today at St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Church, 6405 S. Orchard Road, Linthicum.
Survivors include his wife of 68 years, the former Gertrude Nelligan; a son, Joseph Alan Grunder of Pasadena; a daughter, Lynda Marie Koch of Linthicum; 10 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.
Sergeant James A. Kulbicki at district court in Towson
Sun Paper pic with a partial caption, I don’t think he deserves the title “Sergeant” anymore, and don’t get how he can be given the title by this paper, when I have seen other articles in which an officer was injured, or lost their life and the title was either reduced to “Mr.” or had “Former” in front of the rank, or is called a “COP”. I could be wrong but I think any officer that retires honorably deserves to hold and use their title, (If they so choose) but anyone that is dishonorably retired, or fired lost their title. Why the media would allow them to maintain that title has an agenda.
Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/blog/bal-exbaltimore-police-sergeant-granted-new-trial-in-murder-of-mistress-20140827,0,1273607.story#ixzz3Be1lJ2u9 Court of Appeals Opinion http://www.mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2014/13a13.pdf
Ex-Baltimore Police Sergeant Granted New Trial in Murder of Mistress
Court of Appeals said his lawyers should have challenged evidence harder Sgt. James A. Kulbicki at district court in Towson. Photo by Wm. G. Hotz Sr./file photo (Wm. G. Hotz Sr., Baltimore Sun file photo / January 13, 1993)
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun
12:31 p.m. EDT, August 27, 2014
A sharply divided appeals court granted a new trial to a former Baltimore Police Sergeant convicted in 1995 of murdering his young mistress, finding that his attorneys should have done more to attack questionable forensic evidence. James Kulbicki was convicted of killing 22-year-old Gina Nueslein, a convenience store clerk with whom he had fathered a child. Nueslein’s body was discovered in Gunpowder Falls State Park just a few days before a child support hearing was scheduled for the pair.
At his trial, Baltimore County prosecutors marshaled an array of forensic evidence against him. That included testimony from an FBI expert who compared bullet fragments found in the woman’s skull and Kulbicki’s truck and gun and found their chemical composition matched. But in the years since, the Court of Appeals has ruled that the conclusions reached based on that science are badly flawed and that bullet analysis should not be used as evidence in criminal cases. In Kulbicki’s case, the court found that questions about bullet comparison had already been raised at the time of his trial and should have been raised by his attorneys. “Kulbicki’s attorneys’ failure to appropriately investigate … and to challenge the State’s scientific evidence on cross-examination at trial, thus, fell short of prevailing professional norms,” Judge Lynne A. Battaglia wrote for the court. It’s the second time Kulbicki has secured a new trial. He was originally convicted in 1993, but the case was overturned and he was convicted again in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
email@example.com Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/blog/bal-exbaltimore-police-sergeant-granted-new-trial-in-murder-of-mistress-20140827,0,1273607.story#ixzz3Bddl5KvE
Batts to Remain Baltimore Police Commissioner for Six More YearsWMAR Staff
BALTIMORE – Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts will remain on the job for at least another six years.
Batts’ status with the department became official Wednesday during a confirmation hearing. Batts, who came from Oakland, Calif., has been on the job two years and replaced the retiredFred Bealefeld.
Batts has worked to help reduce the rate of violence in the city. Baltimore’s homicide rate remains behind last year’s pace, but the city has been rocked by a series of recent unsolved murders, including the drive-by shooting death of 3-year-old McKenzie Elliott and the shooting death of 20-year-old CCBC lacrosse player Devin Cook.
AS 600-PAGE SURVEY RAPS CITY POLICE
RICHARD H LEVINE
The Sun (1837-1987); Jan 10, 1966;
Organized crime, place our terms of widespread
Police recruit standards down low…… page A9
By Richard Levine
The Baltimore Police Department has been closely examined and found to be seriously inadequate by the nation’s leading consulting firm specializing in police administration.
The 600 page report issued last night focuses severe criticism at the quality of leadership and management in the police department.
It points up many areas of critical deficiencies and levels both broad and detailed attacks on almost all aspects of police service, all phases of police administration and all divisions, bureaus, squads and specialized functions.
It recommends an immediate, total reorganization of the department and immediate attention to some essential policing responsibilities that are most severely crippled by bad management practices.
It asserts that despite contrary opinion of the public, Baltimore is saddled with place and organization crimes of major proportions.
The report is the result of a $52,000 March to October study conducted by the field service division of the international Association of Chiefs of police.
Besides the dissection of the department problems, the report contains detailed recommendations for improvements.
Two Principal Concerns
The report bears down particularly hard on the top principal concerns of the Police Department – crime control and traffic control.
It engages in widespread faultfinding in both areas. The consultants recommend that the police department remain a state agency and that the governor retain its statutory power to appoint the Commissioner and his power to remove him from office misconduct for incompetency. Other major recommendations are these:
1. The organization of the department according to functions with clear lines of authority and responsibility. Include is the elimination of the rank of inspector and chief inspector.
2. The inauguration of an accurate, complete crime records system
Revision of Beat Patterns
3. A total revision of the beat pattern to equal the workloads of men in patrol.
. The proper development of the planning and research division with a crime analyst unit and expanded use of data processing.
5. The creation of a criminal investigation division for expert handling of all felonies and major vice cases from evidence gathering to preparation for trial.
6. The implementation of the internal investigation unit – now only on paper – as the commissioners watchdog on the department, responsible for intelligent information on misconduct, corruption, abuse of authority and the activities of organized crime figures.
Urges Formal Procedures
7. The establishment of formal disciplinary procedures and a disciplinary board for the prompt proper handling of charges brought against officers from within the department or civilians.
8. A formal system for airing grievances of uniformed and civilian employees of the department with the right to make formal grievances guaranteed by state law.
9. Higher education, physical mental and medical standards for applicants to the force.
10. A revision of the standard for rating candidates for promotion.
11. The restriction of promotion to the top five candidates on a merit rating list.
12. A serious police community effort to reduce the high automobile accident injury and fatality rate in the city with a special pedestrian safety program.
13. Elimination of the present law which restricts candidates for the position of Commissioner to residents or businessmen in the city.
14. A general increase in salaries and benefits including any bays, holidays, overtime pay, insurance benefits and uniform supplies.
15. The construction of a new department headquarters building: the immediate elimination of Northern district with its patrolling divided between Northwest and Northeastern: the abandonment of the Northern district headquarters building as soon as the police Academy can be moved to a newly constructed department headquarters building: the eventual abolishment of the southern district and a abandonment of its headquarters building.
It also calls for a realistic attitude toward problem of vice and crime and a harder attack on these conditions and on the block as a source of “moral blight.”
Two subjects that have drawn much public interest recently are handled by recommendations that the Police Department relieve itself of responsibility for them.
The consultants believe that all towing matters, removal of illegally parked vehicles as well as vehicles and accidents, should be turned over to private contractors.
And it recommends that the city assume the task of sanitary inspections.
The consultants call for the abolishment of the auto theft squad, the pickpocket, hotel and V.I.P. Squad, the riot squad, the mounted sections horses, and the transfer of their functions elsewhere.
There are thousands of specific suggestions directed toward every subject from the meter maid’s manner to the length of the Espantoon.
Even as it urges an immediate program of reform, the report points out that the consultants while engaged in the study, were met with the kind of obstinate resistance that prevented improvements and progress in the department in the past.
“These recommendations will be of little value unless the administrative climate of the Police Department is changed,” the reporter says.
“Superior officers must accept the fact that the department needs improvement and must recognize their responsibilities and lifting the department from its content with the status quo and traditional concepts, to those of the modern, progressive and efficient department the community deserves.”
First Study in 25 Years
The report points out that this is the first comprehensive survey of the department in 25 years, that the reorganization plan suggest that in the previous report was never adopted and that they did department’s structure is virtually unchanged from that which existed in 1940. The report warns:
“It is to be hoped to that history does not repeat itself: restructuring the Baltimore Police Department is sound in importance only to improving the competence of its management.”
The consultants ordered the following guide to their own approach to the survey: “of this report is critical in nature, because in an effort of this type, the most intensive examinations are naturally made into existing weaknesses.
“Intentions of this criticism is that it be constructive: that it assists in improving the organization, personnel and practices of the Baltimore Police Department so that the people will receive effective police services consistent with democratic ideas.
“It should be remembered that the survey is directed toward all police activity and is not just a narrow search for faults. Thus it is consistent with the standards of objectivity.”
The criticism is of two types: that directed toward practices and policies that are not as effective as they should be, and exposure of major flaws that are so basic as to cripple the department. As late as this fall, the department walked on the implementation of two aspects of report that were considered to be important enough for immediate action.
The police Association consultant said that the recommendations on record management were presented in preliminary form to Commissioner Bernard J Schmidt and his inspector on September 21, 1965.
Final Report Presented
Several meetings were held to discuss the recommendations, the consultant said, and a final report was presented to the department on 20 October to enable the department to inaugurate new reporting procedures by the start of the calendar year.
“Despite this, to date the department has taken no action whatsoever in preparation for a change in the present reporting procedures.”
“A second matter indicated similar dilatory handling.” Says the report.
On September 29, the report says, the police Commissioner was given to plans prepared by the I.A.C.P. For the establishment of an internal complaint investigation procedure.
These plans were made after conference had taken place with major McKeldin and Gov. Tawes. There were later conferences.
A Capt. was promoted to inspector, the report says, “reportedly to command the proposed new unit. The plans, however, has still not been implemented.”
What is required in Baltimore the report states, is “inspired, imaginative and indefatigable leadership in the police department and cooperation and support from the community and the state.
However, the consultant was described present leadership in a department in the following statements:
“Management competency is questionable.”
“Management sidesteps responsibilities.”
“Management fails to take strong stands, fails to plan for the future needs and fails to recognize the reality of poor procedures.”
“There is misdirection of the first line supervision – the practices of advancing or promoting personnel are antiquated and restrictive.”
“The system of evaluating personnel performance has been perverted.
“But management, even though cognizant of and dissatisfied with the use of the system, has failed to take meaningful corrective action.”
The report makes clear that under the present organizational structure the department’s chief inspector, George J. Murphy, is a “strong assistant Commissioner” who assumes and in ordinate share of the actual command and, therefore of the responsibility of the department.
Source of Difficulties
The report, where ever its intention turns, looks back at “management” and “the supervisors” to find the source of the difficulties. For instance: “demands for a civilian review board to oversee the conduct of force are not usually heard in those communities where the police agency operates an effective disciplinary program of its own.”
This statement is in a discussion of the internal investigation division IID. The unit that Commissioner Schmidt found an inspector for but, according to the report, has failed to organize.
The I.A.C.P. went against its own previous position and recommending that the police department remain under state control.
Transfer Idea Discussed
In lengthy discussion of this topic of the consultants conclude that “competent police management can do an outstanding job under the present set-up.”
Primary reason for making a change, the report says, would be to avoid political control and interference, to satisfy desire for home rule or to escape financial burden imposed by the state.
The consultants found none of these factors present in Baltimore.
There is no popular moved to transfer control, they said, and in referendum the citizens of Baltimore have previously rejected taking control.
Legislation last year gave the city control of the police budget. Purchasing and disbursements. Moves that gave the city virtual financial control of the department, they continued.
As for Political Interference:
“External control of the department does not appear to be a major problem… Indeed, the present political climate in the city might prove such a move (transfer to city control) to be harmful.”
“We have seen little evidence of machine politics in the operation of the Baltimore Police Department, although there are rather well – circulated rumors concerning the influence of certain promotions. Many of the derogatory facts of unwholesome political control are conspicuously absent in the city of Baltimore.
The I.A.C.P. Experts, probably too many people surprise, did not recommend any increase in the number of patrolman needed for crime patrol.
Repeatedly, however, the consultants complained that that the departments in accurate crime stats hamper attempts to determine such things as actual workloads, the level of crime or whether crime is increasing or decreasing.
However, by utilizing a short time, temporary, control system enough information was gathered to allow a new mapping of the beats to equalize the workload for patrolman.
The suggested shifts actually resulted in a surplus of 136 positions over actual minimum needs. At the same time, the report said, the police coverage and quality of protection would be improved.
Other Cities Compared
In terms of money and men, the report says the Baltimore compares favorably with other major cities in the nation.
The Police Department gets $27 million annually which represents 14% of the receipts from general property taxation – a per capita cost of $24.30.
Comparative cost figure for other cities are: Chicago $25.69: Washington $32.49: Los Angeles $22.41: Detroit $21.82: St. Louis $21.81: Philadelphia $21.25: Milwaukee $19.59: Cleveland $18.62 and Houston $11.74.
In terms of police and please per inhabitant, Baltimore ranks higher than any city in that group with an exception of Washington in terms of police employees per square mile Baltimore ranks fourth.
The consultant said that a further significant comparison was with the city’s Los Angeles and Milwaukee “regarded by some as among the best police departments in the country.”
The I.A.C.P. Found the Baltimore spends more and has a higher proportion of police employees than either of those cities.
The picture of what the city gives the department is far brighter, however, then what is returned.
Because of the garbled records the department’s performance in criminal convictions could not be computed. The report said, it did conclude, however, that only a relatively small percentage of persons who committed major crimes in the city are ever found guilty of the original charge.
On Traffic Control
As for traffic control, this second major area of responsibility “provides some insight on the departments of efficiency.”
The report contains this summary statement” “the traffic performance record of Baltimore Police Department is below recommended national standards in the categories of training, hit and run convictions, overall enforcement, selective enforcement, enforcement by nine full-time traffic officers, pedestrian enforcement and enforcement of drinking driving laws. The overall 1964 traffic performance of the department was evaluated at 32% of the recommended performance 100% level”
The I.A.C.P. Recommend restructuring the department into three functional bureaus – administrative, operations and services – each headed by a deputy Commissioner.
Under them would be other functionally organize units headed by men with new ranks – three chiefs, 12 directors and three deputy chiefs – all above the rank of Capt.
That use would head the division’s largest in personnel and authority – patrol, traffic and the new criminal investigation division.
All the way down to the organizational chart, services would be combined with like services.
Because of the intense difficulties in traffic control the I.A.C.P. Recommends the formation of a special community committee to strike at this problem with the new traffic division.
Equally disturbed to the consultants was the departments approach to criminal investigations.
The report speaks of lack of understanding of the investigation process in modern policing and the confusion among units as to the responsibility for investigations.
Furthermore, follow-up investigations, the consultants found were draining a great amount of time from preventative crime patrolling and taking sergeants away from their primary responsibilities of supervision.
The separate investigation unit would take over follow-up work in felonies and vice, thus adding professionalism to the task of freeing the patrol for its specialty.
As for the present patrol assignments, the report turned them “Not satisfactory.”
It points, for example to the workload of the radio car 504 which was found to be the only 38% of that of a radio car 102.
The department was found to be guilty of other had patrol practices. Men are divided nearly equally among the three shifts each 24 hours even though the work load and crying frequently is not equally distributed.
A study showed that the greatest amount of work occurred during the 4 PM to midnight shift but that the largest proportion of patrolman were assigned to day shift.
In figures the 4 PM to midnight shift had 40% more work than a day shift and 17% fewer men.
Similar inadequacies were found from district to district.
The one man patrol cars, the two men radio cars and foot patrolmen were found to be carrying workloads which were disproportionate to their total manpower strength.
Foot beats were found to be unrealistically large in many cases. Despite these illogical assignments the drain effectiveness the consultants found further that “a high proportion” of available manpower was assigned to a host of miscellaneous duties, and this “in the face of claimed that shortages of manpower to fill foot post.”
The discontinuance of the northern and southern police district, the consultant said, would further increase patrol efficiencies and free extra men for the streets by eliminating duplication of non-patrol assignments.
“The presence of the district station is in itself no deterrent to crime” a very small percentage of all police services originate with a complaints appearance at a station,” the report says.
Not only did the consultants find men enough to patrol Baltimore’s streets, they also found there were enough patrol sergeants to do adequate supervision. Outside of the patrol, supervisory ratios provided another kind of problem.
For instance it was found that there were twice as many detective Sgt. is needed the supervision of the 154 detective patrolman. The report recommends cutting the complement of 49 sergeants in half.
Beside the detectives, the homicide Bureau, Hotel squad, narcotics squad and states attorney unit was found to be “top-heavy with supervisors.”
And yet with all these supervisors, lack of supervision was an important complaint of the report.
The problem, “questionable selection process; failure to use a supervisory probationary period; failure to provide adequate supervisory training: excessive familiarity with subordinates and lack of bearing” and several other reasons.
Along with the lack of supervision, the consultants found a lack of effective control from the Commissioner which they particularly blame on the organizational structure and partially one lack of staff supervision.
The consultant said the apparent intent of the organization scheme is to give the Commissioner administrative functions and the chief inspection operational functions.
The report says this system makes the chief inspector “a strong assistant Commissioner” and quotes a textbook on this situation: “at best a single assistant chief accomplices tasks that are properly the duties of an executive officer or adjutant: the worst he isolates the chief of the department and takes over policy decisions without which the department head cannot be chief in fact and becomes sort of a “grandvizer” to which all ranks must bow in order to have their request granted.”
The survey team labeled the Baltimore system as “defective” because responsibilities from management are not clearly fixed but are shared.
“The final result is that the Commissioner is held responsible in practice by the governor and by the public for all the activities of the department, but is insulated and prevented from being an executive in fact.”
Because of the lack of staff inspections, the report said, Commissioner Schmidt must accept reports on performance of duty from those who are personally charged with the responsibility for the duty.
There is no way for the Commissioner to ensure that the line commanders are properly performing their duties.
The report says that the most singular recent example of what this lack of real information can lead to was the commissioner’s lack of knowledge of the faulty crime reporting procedures until outside sources disclose them publicly with the resultant wave of unfavorable publicity.
“Even an outsider unschooled in police work could detect something was wrong with the crime reporting and were courting as practiced by the Baltimore Police Department.”
The imperfect recording of crime incidents, the report says, was not the fault of the investigating officers and sergeants, lieutenants, captains and top administrators were aware of the practices and permitted them.
On December, 1964 after the police crime records were publicly questioned, a thick report was transmitted to governor Tawes by the Police Department in which nearly every officer above the rank of Lieut. claim that there was no evidence to indicate that they complete recording was not being practiced.
Very Little Praise
In a mass of criticism, very little praise comes forth.
The consultants do command the public relations efforts of Capt. Norman J. Schleigh, head of the police training academy, any attempts made by Thomas J. Miller, former personnel director, in areas of improving the process of selecting officer candidates and in trying to activate formal grievance procedures.
Among the miscellaneous services that receive strong criticism is the medical division and the police positions.
The consultants claim that physicians exercise more control over a high sickness rate in the department, an average of more than 12 days a man every year for the past two decades.
The consultant said that a combined sickness and injury rate of eight days or more a year as an average for the department should prompt the administration of the department to either improve control over misuse of sick leave or else and prove a genuinely poor health record.
In Baltimore’s case both approaches must be used, said the report.
Reducing the sick leave to a tolerable average of eight days a year would be the equivalent of a gain of 90 men on the force, the consultants figured.
Would Replace Doctors
“If physicians on the staff are not sympathetic to more stringent control procedures, they should be replaced with doctors who are willing to assert their responsibility and authority, “said the report. The positions were also said to have no well-developed medical standards for recruits and for accepting candidates of questionable physical fitness.
There are a number of miscellaneous criticisms of major importance in many areas.
The consultant thought the K-9 Corps was poorly assigned and wasting time patrolling hospitals.
A spot check revealed that citizens call for help were more probably answered on the regular administration telephone lines than through the emergency numbers.
With few exceptions this was followed almost to the letter bringing the department into modern times, and making the incoming commissioner at the time (Donald Pomerleau) look like a genius. Don’t get me wrong he was very good at what he did and made some outstanding improvements to the department, but with a cheat sheet or umm.. “Suggestion sheet” like this, he had a nice head start. That said the rest was all up to him and he did and amazing job.
Baltimore Police to post “Use of force”‘ cases online
The Baltimore Police Department says it will begin to post a log of its investigations into serious use of force by officers online, and for the first time will ask the city’s civilian review board to look at shootings involving its officers and deaths of people in custody.
Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said the move was the latest in a series intended to improve transparency and accountability.
“We have a responsibility to be as forthright and transparent as the law allows us to be, especially when it comes to our use of force,” Batts told reporters Tuesday. He said the city force would be the first in the state to display such information online.
The agency began posting a list of incidents being investigated by a newly created “Force Investigation Team” online this week. The 15 cases on the department website Tuesday included fatal shootings that involved officers, an incident in which a shot was fired into a vehicle, Taser discharges, and allegations of police vehicle pursuits. Some had not been previously disclosed.
When the Force Investigation Team completes a review, a summary, including any policy recommendations, will be posted on the site, Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said. Reviews typically take several months to complete.
Officials say state personnel laws prevent them from disclosing information on officer discipline.
Activist C.D. “Cortly” Witherspoon said the inability to tell the public when and how officers are disciplined “feeds this suspiciousness that the citizenry has for this entire process.” Still, he called the online list “a positive move in the right direction.”
Robert F. Cherry, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore, said the union had not been advised of the details of the plan and intends to sit down with top officials. His chief concern was that release of too much information could compromise the investigations.
“We need to protect the rights of the officers who, at the end of the day, are the ones getting the job done,” Cherry said.
Under Batts, the Police Department has been overhauling nearly every aspect of how it does business. Tuesday’s announcement was laid out in a wide-ranging strategic plan that was released in November 2013.
Uses of deadly force by Baltimore officers have for years been investigated by the agency’s own homicide detectives, while training reviews of such cases were not being conducted, according to a commission appointed in 2011 to review the friendly fire death of Officer William H. Torbit Jr.
The Force Investigation Team is modeled on a unit in Las Vegas developed by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Baltimore team is composed of specially trained officers who report to the department’s accountability bureau.
“We will investigate the tactics, policies, and [the] actions of the officers leading up to, during, and immediately after” the use of force, Rodriguez said. “We continue to strive to bring the national best practices to the Baltimore Police Department.”
A new “use of force” board of top commanders will then produce a report with recommendations to the police commissioner, he said.
The report is to be posted online once it is approved, he said. It’s unclear how detailed such reports will be.
Once the commissioner has signed off on the report, Rodriguez said, the “entire investigation” will be handed over to the civilian review board.
The Baltimore Sun reported last year that four of the nine positions on the board had long been vacant, the police and union had stopped attending meetings, and some board members were asking whether they were fulfilling their mission. The city has been working since then to reconstitute the board.
The board’s recommendations on cases of excessive force and abusive language have rarely if ever been followed, The Sun found, and its investigations and findings are not made public. In other cities, civilian review boards have had a more assertive role.
Rodriguez said asking the civilian review board to look at more serious use-of-force cases was “something that has not been done in the city, and we’re very proud to bring that here with the ultimate goal of being as transparent as legally possible.”
Alvin Gillard, a city official who oversees the civilian review board, said he had not been informed of the new plans. He said police have been working to increase cooperation with the board, including attending the board’s meetings.
Still, he said, “When you have the law enforcement officer’s bill of rights hovering over everything, it does limit what you’re able to do.”
Batts noted that the department has appointed outside panels to review the deaths of Anthony Anderson and Tyrone West while in police custody. The West review is expected to be completed soon.
Batts said more changes to use-of-force policies are coming.
J. Wyndal Gordon, an attorney representing Anderson’s family in a $2 million lawsuit, said the department’s efforts at transparency have fallen short. The family says officers used unnecessary force when the 46-year-old was thrown to the ground during a drug arrest, causing his spleen to rupture.
The officers involved were cleared of criminal wrongdoing, and the outside panel said the officers acted appropriately.
“Although they’re trying to give the appearance that they’re doing more, it’s really more of the same,” Gordon said.
ARE NOW CITY POLICE
The Sun (1837-1987); Jan 6, 1919; pg. 6
ARE NOW CITY POLICE
33 Former Members of County Department Accepted By City
WERE ASSIGNED YESTERDAY (5 January 1919)
Many of Them Will Patrol Their Old Post in the Newly Annexed Territory
Marshal Carter announced last night That 33 former Baltimore county policemen had been accepted during the past week as members of the city department; had received their uniforms and equipment, and, were attached yesterday to six of the outlying districts and assigned to posts mapped out by the Police Board. As the Annexation act allowed but 60 men patrolling the 50 square miles of the Annex, Marshall Carter intends to build up the outline force as soon as he can obtain 27 new men for the territory.
Only two sergeants were made for the populous sections of Highlandtown and Canton. They were William C Feehly and Christian Hesse. Sgt. Feehly and Sgt. Hesse will alternate on the schedule of six weeks day and six weeks night duty. The policeman attached to the six districts are as follows;
Eastern District – Hesse, Patrolman Andrew Hartman, Timothy Feehly, Henry Wachter, Joseph F Hess, Nicholas Wolf, and Michael Noppinger.
Northeastern District – Patrolman John Pilsch, Dennis F. Starr, Henry B. Nuth, G Ritter G. Ritter, and Robert Grace.
Northern District – Louis Mehring, Perry A. Knight, Louis F. Bortner, John Rutledge and John F Hufstettler.
Northwestern District – Daniel M. Hoffman, James E. Kleeman, James McConkey and Earl L. Jackson.
Southern District – Sgt. John P. Helmer, patrolman John Dotterweich. Frank P. Hasse, Henry E. Rapp, Philip Mewshaw and Howard J. Swope.
Southwestern District – Patrolman Thomas G. Stein, Henry Schwink, Joseph A. Arnold, Barney R. Bealefild and George A. Moeller.
Some Are Dissatisfied
A number of the patrolman who live in Highlandtown, and to formerly assigned to post near their homes, have been assigned to post, and in the extreme outlying sections of the new territory in the southwestern and northern districts. Some of the men require nearly 2 hours to reach their post, and they are kicking. Marshall Carter is cognizant of the condition, and he proposes to remedy it as soon as he obtains men for the faraway posts.
Many of the patrolman, however, are patrolling their formal posts in an annexed area, and they have no complaint to make. All agree, however, that they expected shorter hours: a tour of duty which would conform with three shift system of the city. For several weeks, however, the patrolman of the Annex will be obliged to work on a 12 hour basis.
Marshall Addresses Men
What Marshall Carter said to the former County policeman when he had them appear in his office at police headquarters is quite interesting.
“Men, you are now members of the Baltimore Police Department.” He said, “and I want you to distinctly understand that you owe your allegiance to no politician, no gambler, or no one else who by act disposition, is opposed to law and order. There are no strings tied to your job. You are responsible for the preservation of law on the post assigned to you, and there is no one who can, in any degree, interfere with you in the performance of your duty. I earnestly believe that you are men who will perform your duty, and to that and you will have the unqualified support of your superiors and the board of police commissioners.” He continued with, “There are three things which this department will not tolerate: disorderly houses, elicit from selling and gambling. Should you have occasion to proceed against such violators, I want you to do it with vigor, and I will back you up. You need have no fear when you enforce the law, because you are protected by law and by the integrity of this department.”
A number of the new members of the force were greatly pleased at what Marshall said. They were men who knew what the old system of policing in the county had been, and who had actually had a difficult time keeping their jobs when politicians of the old 12th district got after them.
It won’t be long, probably a week, before motorcycle patrolman will be detailed to the outlying sections to aid police work, and if Marshall Carter and the police board are successful in carrying out their plans it is probable that the Canton police station will be reopened ere many weeks.
Definition of “Ere” 1. Ere (adverb) before; sooner than 2. Ere (adverb) rather than 3. Ere (verb) to plow. [Obs.] See Ear, v. t
Lawless in Baltimore
Ruffians Unmasked by The Marshal of Police
Organized Gangs of Malefactors
How They are Banded Together and How They Defy the Police.
At the request of the grand jury police Marshal John T. Gray addressed a communication to Mr. Robert Banks, foreman of the grand jury, given from the police records a history of lawlessness; naming nearly 250 ruffians and disorderly characters, some of them thieves, belonging to berries gangs in the different sections of the city, but more especially making their rendezvous’s in the middle district. The names of these parties are withheld at the request of the police board. Some of them are individuals who have figured conspicuously in the newspapers as violators of the law and disturbers of the peace: others have not achieved notoriety outside of station – house records. But they all are men of the police have found it necessary to mark and to guard themselves and the public against. The Marshal furnishes not only the names of some of the more prominent actors in cases of violence and disorder which have lately occurred in the city, but the locality, also, of the usual assemblage of these parties, with briefs of the more important cases in which they have figured.
Eastern District Ruffians
Beginning with the records of the Eastern district he says: I find in this district 68 cases of assault on police since January 1, 1877. Some of these cases were disposed of by the police magistrate requiring the parties to give bail to keep the peace or by committing those in default of such bail, and the others were sent on the court. The parties charged with these offenses are not confined to the membership of clubs or similar organizations, but quite a number of these offenses have been committed by persons is somewhat notorious as ruffians, having in all cases a considerable following, prominent among those who have been frequently arrested for assaulting and beating citizens and policeman, the Marshal enumerates 10 individuals, most of whom rendezvous’s at the corner of spring and Pratt streets, where in connection with some 12 others, they behave at times in a very disorderly manner. Whenever an arrest of any one of them is attempted, resistance follows. With not un-frequently and assault on the police officer. Others of those enumerated with their followers, congregate about the corners of Chester Street and Eastern Avenue. Others again are conspicuous as leaders of a crowd which congregates about the corner of bond and same Street. The Marshal also gives the names of 10 other rowdies who give trouble at lower Canton, some of them living over the city border.
Specific cases of violence by these people are furnished as follows: 7 November 1875: attack on policeman William V. Norris broken leg and left insensible on the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore railroad track, with the supposed intention of having him run over by a train and killed.
17 August 1877: attack on policeman Schlosser, in which he was beaten with his own Espantoon and afterwards, with a borrowed pistol, shot and arrested Courtney Tully, wounding him in the arm. Tully was sentenced to jail for four months and served only that many weeks, when he was released, the Marshal does not know by whom.
14 may 1878: another severe assault on policeman Schlosser by two of the bond and same Street gang, in which the evidence of comrades had the effect to procure a light sentences.
Rowdyism in the Northeast
Only one gang in the Northeast police district gives much trouble. This gang comprises six or eight men who usually frequent the beer saloons in the vicinity of Madison Square, they are notoriously disorderly characters, and the Marshal gives their names, which are frequently found on the station house records for drunken this and disorderly conduct, fighting and beating citizens and policeman. There is, however, less ruffianism than in other districts. Specific case: 23 September 1876, attack on policeman Granruth who was badly beaten by two of the gang for attempting to arrest one of their comrades.
Middle District Rowdyism
A number of localities in this district are infested by gangs of lawless men, who have been for a long time a terror to all order loving and peaceable citizens residing in the vicinity of their various rendezvous’. Notwithstanding the efforts of the police to disperse these gangs, they have been able to continue, to some extent, there lawless acts. As a rule attempts to arrest one brings the violent resistance of the whole gang. In self-defense the police officer is compelled to use his weapons, and in almost all such cases a host of witnesses, composed of active adherents, testify to an unprovoked assault made by the policeman on the prisoner. In many cases this sort of evidence has had the effect of two cause the discharge of the prisoner, and in some instances to bring punishment on the police officer.
Infested localities and gangs, the individuals of which are named: Monument and Constitution streets, 24 men: Chestnut and Douglas Streets six men names it with others, the whole crowd consisting chiefly of thieves who have been often arrested: center market space and fish market, 12 man named: little front and Plowman streets notorious for the crowd of “roughs,” police fighters and some of them thieves, 80 men the names of some having familiar to all newspaper readers: pleasant and Holliday streets, a lawless gang, 15 of them named. Many of them intermediated on this blacklist of the Police Department have been arrested for offenses ranging from disorderly conduct to robbery and attempt to kill. Many of them are noted for violence in the locality known as the “meadow.”
Specific acts of violence are enumerated as follows: 21 June 1876, assault on policeman Jas. P. Donohue, in bath Street, while protecting a woman. Thomas freeze, who afterwards killed Andrew Wieder in front of City Hall, was the object of arrest. The policeman was very badly hurt, and after assistance had been sent him to make the arrest, the testimony of some witnesses secured the conviction and a fine on the policeman.
Six October, 1877, assault of policeman McCrory at North and pleasant streets: case dismissed by the grand jury. 26 December, 1877, Monument Square, resistance to policeman McCabe: policeman Thomas Brown kicked in the face, assault on Capt. Barhart, of the Northwestern district, in all of which the grand jury failed to indict the rowdy assailants.
To July 1877, assault on policeman McCrory while protecting the life of a woman from the brutal assault of her son in law a member of the Constitution Street gang. The prisoner was committed for court, but the case has never been called for trial.
14 April, 1878, policeman mills and Mr. Russell, a citizen, struck in the face with stones the latter having his teeth knocked down his throat. Of the parties arrested the annual the clogging was sent to jail one week and John the clogging had his Cased stetted.
14 September 1878 assault on policeman Jas. O’Neill and the assailant acquitted by jury trial. 10 December, 1878, in a free fight on Gay Street, near Fayette Street – between a gang of roughs, policeman Dietz was knocked down. When he arose a pistol was placed against his breast by a man who screened himself behind another: the trigger was pulled, but it did not go off because the hammer fell on an empty chamber, all the other chambers being loaded. For this Patrick Kernan was tried before the criminal court and find $20 and costs.
8 September 1878, assault on Lewis Klaygon: true bill by grand jury against Nicholas Cripps, but nothing further heard of the matter.
12 August 1876, disturbance by a rowdy trying to pass the ropes at a fire: assault on police Cheney by center market gang. Knocked down and deprived of his Espantoon. Several shots fired by the mob. Policeman Hinds, who came up, was shot in the foot. Michael Farrell was shot in the leg. Policeman Cheney was arrested for the latter shooting. A large number of the mob appeared as witnesses against him, and the Police Department, being fully satisfied that whatever evidence might be necessary to acquit Farrell and convict the police officer would be forthcoming, concluded to compromise the case, and it was so disposed of on 12 September 1878. The same can assaulted policeman L. Ward, Lombard and Concorde streets, who was knocked down and beaten with his own Espantoon so badly that it was several days before he could appear, and if assistance had not arrived he would have very likely been killed. William Harrington was in this case sentenced to jail for two months afterwards charge the 14 days.
A number of other similar cases the records of the middle district. It is considered unnecessary to give, as being simply communicative. They are, however, open to the members of the grand jury whenever they may wish to see them.
Western District Lawlessness
Lawless characters are by no means so numerous in the Western district as in the middle district, and there are but few localities noted as meeting places. Yet the majority of these characters are widely known, their names often appearing on the records at the station and in newspapers, and it would seem surprising that a few lawless men should be able to play the role of ruffian for the length of time these men have. Nevertheless it is a fax, as the records of the district abundantly show. The evil doers resort to the same means to escape the consequences of their acts as like characters and other sections of the city and show equal contempt for the law. 13 August 1875 a number of the associates of a disturber of the peace rescued their comrade from the custody of policeman Jesse Carter, finally assaulting the officer, who was prosecuted in the criminal court, and so many of the gang testified that the policeman was sentenced to jail for 60 days. The ruffians about whom this affair occurred was afterwards convicted of burglary on the evidence of a citizen, and several of his comrades have been since arrested for theft and other unlawful acts. This gang infests the vicinity of Poppleton and Columbia streets, and 12 of their names are given. Attention is called to another gang of lawless men, who while they seem to have no particular rendezvous, yet commit offenses in various parts of the district. The Marshal mentions the names of 13 men, which appears several times for each on the record since 1870 for fighting, writing, beating policeman and other civilians, and several of them have been arrested as many as 12 times on various charges – the assault of Sunday afternoon, 18 August 1878 on policeman looks, is subscribed to members of this gang, two of whom were find $25 and $10 respectively, and one was acquitted. In another Western district gang, of which a certain man is said to be the leader, the Marshal says that while this Chiefs station – house record shows that since 1870 he has been arrested between 20 and 30 times, he has never been punished by the court more than twice, the punishments then being not more than trifling fines. Marshal gray further adds: “indeed, on one occasion, being unexpectedly in the criminal court room. I saw this man, to my utter astonishment in the jury box, sitting in judgment on offenses committed by persons of a like character to his own. I may say, to, that this is not the only instance in which I have found men of this character occupying the position of juror. Others of whose names are given in this record as lawless persons; and who but a short time previous had occupied the prisoners box, have been seen filling positions of jurymen.” The Marshal mentions the names of 16 adherents of the men. The tactics are to bring countercharges against police officers. The Marshal enumerates a number of cases transcribed from police records containing charges against the man from 1871 to December 1878 in the last of which, when brought before the grand jury, the Marshal says he “placed a patch of plaster on the side of his head, exhibiting it as proof of the beating inflicted upon him by the officer who had arrested him and against him countercharges had been made.”
“is southern district,” Marshal gray says: “I am glad to be able to say there has been, during the past two years, a marked decrease in acts of lawlessness, and I may say, to the credit of those who have hereto for been known as law, breakers, it was seldom that they offered any violent resistance to the police on occasions of arrests. I do not know the existence of any of the organized bands of men in the district at present. Who are combined together for the purpose of committing unlawful acts in resisting executors of the law.”
in the Northwestern district there seem to be a pre-consorted determination on the part of several law – breaking gangs to commit violence, regardless of consequences, and to resist and assault officers whenever an arrest is attempted. This appears to have been the case from the time of organization of this section of the city into a separate police district. Such attempts are currently on the increase. Both in frequency and violence. Since 1874, when the district which formed. I find 60 cases of assault on policeman recorded. Quite a number of which were violent and brutal, and I regret to say that in cases where convictions were reached, we think the penalty handed out was certainly very mild in comparison to the crime for which they were charged, when the character of the offender and the gravity of the offense are taken into consideration. It may be truthfully said, however, that these results are owing in great measure to the ever – ready and willing testimony put in for the defense by the “fellow – roughs” and sympathizers.
A party of men assembling in the vicinity of Pennsylvania Ave., Union Street and extending along the Avenue to Lafayette market is known to the police as “the Pennsylvania Avenue crowd.” Its members seem to be numerous, for when an arrest of any of them is made their associates are generally on hand, sometimes to resist and often to assault the police officer, generally making countercharges against him, with abundant evidence of a peculiar kind to sustain them. Among the more prominent men of this gang the Marshal gives the name of 24 men, some of them he says, being notorious thieves and burglars as well as ruffians. Another crowd, equally notorious, he says, infests the Richmond market and falls road, among these the Marshal mentions the names of 30 men. Still another gang, known as “spring toads” congregates about Perkins spring. Of this gang the Marshal names 20 men.
A long record of misdeeds and light or no penalty is furnished the grand jury from this district, beginning 13 June, 1874, in which policeman work was beaten, and an attempt was made to have him indicted for using his weapon in self-defense, while the “rough” at the bottom of the trouble was acquitted. Specimens cases of furnished for each of the gangs mentioned, some of the offenders being class by the Marshal as notorious thieves burglars and ruffians, one of whom it was necessary to tie and all on a Dray to the station house in March 1876, for assaulting a policeman, and in whose case the police officer and other prosecuting witnesses attend the court 13 times on summonses, and when the trial was finally had the jury found the prisoner not guilty, his comrades swearing him entirely out of the case. Some of the members of these gangs have their pictures in the rogues’ gallery. Several of the cases cited show that the ruffians, by means unknown to the Marshal, succeed in getting clear of the law, and, in turn, appearing as the bold and on bruising prosecutors of the conservators of the peace, and sometimes was encouraging success.
The Marshal concedes his enumeration of specimens cases with the history of the “Modoc’s,” who infest the neighborhood of Fremont Street and Patterson Avenue. This gang has been in existence under the name of the Modoc’s but a short time, yet they have an established reputation for lawlessness inferior to know other gang in the city. Among their number Marshal gray mentions 25 by name. The deeds of the Modoc’s have been illustrated in the recent deadly assault of Sgt. Gaither and policeman Concannon, which is fresh in the minds of all. Marshal gray further says: “members of the various Northwestern gangs are found frequently consorting together. No single one of the crowds has any fixed place or room in which to meet, so far as I’m aware, but all of them make beer saloons, cigar shops and street corners their places of meeting. Many complaints have been made of their conduct, but, inasmuch as the complainants refuse and veritably to give their own names, for fear, as they allege, of bodily harm, no arrests have been made in these cases, except where the offenses committed within this site or nearing of a policeman. In most cases of arrest a violent resistance, usually followed by assault on the officer, is the result. Quite a number of Modoc’s have been arrested several times for beating policeman. Some of them are also thieves as well as ruffians, and I think of the very worst description of ruffians. Of this, however, I will leave yourself to be the judge, as your honorable body has had before it the evidence of a number of persons in reference to the brutal assault made by this gang on Sgt. Gaither and police officer Concannon of the 8 November 1879 last; I regret that the information asked for by the grand jury should have been so long delayed in its presentation. The necessity of examining the records of the several police stations has consumed considerable time and I have endeavored to present it to you as it is here recorded, together with some observations of my own in order to secure completeness of detail. While these details do not furnish very agreeable reading, yet I do not wish to be understood as asserting that there is more lawlessness in Baltimore then can be usually found in large cities. On the contrary, I am proud to be able to say that there is much less of it here than in any of our sister cities of equal and or less population. Still is on deniable that there is a growing disposition on the part of these disorderly bandits of men to resist the laws and maltreat the police officers whose duty it is to see that the laws are enforced, and I am sure that it cannot be other than a matter of great surprise to the grand jury, as it is to me, and must be every citizen who takes interest enough in the good government of our city to inform himself of the facts, that so small a number of lawless characters should be allowed to continue for so long to more the good name of our city. This state of things, I humbly submit, will not be found to be due either to the inefficiency of the police force or to any one of repressive efforts on the part of the Police Department J. T. Gray Marshal of the police.”
Sun paper article Dated 21 August, 1902 titled, “1000 to take Oath”
1000 to take Oath
Entire Police Force, Including Matrons, Must Be Re-Sworn
Old Form Declared Illegal
Mr. Alonso Miles, Counsel For The Board, Makes The Discovery And Change Is Ordered.
Is possible that for 30 years, or ever since the recognition of the Police Department in 1867, the members of the department have been sworn in illegally?
Is it possible that each and every member of the department, from the Veteran Marshall to the most Verdant Probationary Patrolman, carrying his Espantoon like a stick of dynamite, must file up to the courthouse, pay $.10 and be properly sworn in by the clerk of the Superior Court?
These questions are not vaguely speculative, but have assumed distinct form, and already preparations have been made for the swearing in once more of the entire department. The walls of the police board sanctum will echo more oaths within the next few days then Dorn any other. Since the board was created.
News of this remarkable prospect only leaked out yesterday (Wednesday, 20 Aug, 1902), and behind it is an interesting story. Hitherto it has always been the custom for the secretary of the board of police commissioners to swear in the newly appointed or promoted policeman. The system has been in vogue since the recognition of the department and its legal status has never heretofore been questioned. It is probably a relic of the old regime, when the department was a municipal organization. The discovery that the old way of administering the oath is illegal was due to the desire of the present board to conform with the letter of the law in all matters.
Mr. Upshur Investigates
When Marshal Farnan was appointed to his present rank on August 8 it happened that Mr. Joshua H Kinsley, the secretary of the board, was spending his vacation at the seashore. After the appointment had been made the question arose who should administer the oath of his new office to Marshall Farnan. Present ups are for the time being by concluding that as the secretary had administered the oath in the past, the president of the board had an equal right to do so, especially as the president is empowered to administer the oath to witnesses at trials. He accordingly swore in Marshal Farnan.
Afterward, in thinking over the matter, it occurred to Mr. ups are that, while he had as much right to swear in an officer as a secretary, the authority of the latter official to do so was not entirely clear.
Mr. of sire being a lawyer, the subject naturally interested him and he made a diligent search of the state and police loss, but failed to find any statue which would enlighten him. Realizing then that the matter was an important one and required immediate attention, he determined to call the attention to Mr. Alonso W. Miles, the Council to the board, to the subject. This was accordingly done.
Counsel Miles Opinion
Mr. Miles devoted much time to the subject and, after a painstaking investigation, came to the conclusion that since its organization in 1867 no member of the Police Department have been sworn in legally. This option he based upon a section of the Maryland Constitution and a statue of the public general laws of Marilyn. Section 6 of article 1 of the Constitution is as follows:
every person elected or appointed to any office of profit or trust, under this Constitution, or under the laws made pursuant thereto, shall, before he enters upon the duties of such office, take “and subscribe to the following oath or affirmation:
“I, _______, do swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of United States; and that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the state of Maryland, and support the Constitution and laws thereof; and that I will, to the best of my skill and judgment, diligently and faithfully, without partiality or prejudice, execute the office of ________ according to the Constitution and laws of the state, and (if the governor, senator, member of the house of delegates or judge) that I will not directly, or indirectly receive the profits of, or any part of the profits, or any other office during the term of my acting as _______.”
Article 7 of the public general laws deals with official oaths, by whom, when and where they must be taken. After describing the oath for the governor, secretary of state, judges, comptroller incorporation officers, the article section 6 says:
all other officers elected or appointed to any office of trust or profit under the Constitution or laws of the state, including the mayor or other chief magistrates of municipal corporations, shall take and subscribe the said oaths, in the city of Baltimore before the clerk of the Superior Court, and in several counties before the clerk of the circuit court or before one of the sworn deputies of such clerk’s.
Section 7 – says,
The said clerk shall each procure and keep in his office a well bound book, to be called a test book, in which shall be printed or conspicuously written the oaths aforesaid, and every person taking or subscribing the same shell Annex to his signature the title of the office to which he shall have been elected or appointed, and the date of his signature.
Section 2 of the same article 6 is the fee of the clerk for ministering the oaths at $.10 each.
1000 Will Swear Anew
At yesterday’s meeting of the board Mr. Miles submitted to the board the result of his investigation. Immediate action was then taken. Deputy clerk Peter Stevens, of the Superior Court, was summoned to the board room and consulted about the best possible means of administering that oath to the 1009 members of the Police Department. He was also ordered to procure a book to be used as a “test book” in which will be preserved to signatures of each officer. This announcement will probably cause an immense expenditure of ink on the part of those who signatures resembled Chinese laundry tickets and who will naturally desire to improve their penmanship.
The work of Reese wearing in the membership of the department will begin at once, and will be carried on as rapidly as is consistent with the workings of the department. Exactly how it will be done has as yet not been definitely settled. There are 1000 members of the Police Department, including matrons and employees, and it $.10 each these Wilmette the clerk of the Superior Court about $100.
A Great Surprise to the Board
President Upshur was seen last night at the Maryland club. In answer to questions about the change in the manner of swearing in the members of the department he said:
“Yes, it has been found necessary to re-administer the oath of office to every member of the department. Mr. Miles announced to the board today that this was necessary, and the work of Reese wearing in the officers will begin at once. Mr. Stevens has been ordered to procure a test book, and the swearing in of the men will probably take place in the board room.
“The discovery that the oaths as administered to the officers by the secretary of the board is illegal was a great surprise to the board. Ever since the recognition of the department in 1867 it has been the custom of the secretary to swear in the officers, and his right to do so has never, I believe, been questioned. As soon as Mr. Miles gave his opinion on the subject the board ordered that all of the men must take another oaths, as prescribed by the law.”
Doesn’t Affect Departmental Acts
Mr. Alonso W Miles counsel to the board, at first declined to discuss the matters, but when pressed to talk, said:
“There is no doubt that the manner in which the oath of office has been administered in the past is illegal. The law is very plain and definite as to the manner in which the oath must be administered, and the wonder is that the fact should not have been discovered years ago. The question involved, however, is one of a minor detail and does not affect anything that the department has done or any arrest that have been made. The law says that a fee of $.10 is required for each oath and the men themselves will probably have to pay this fee.”
Mr. Peter Stevens, deputy Kirk of Superior Court, was seen, but declined to say anything about the matter. He admitted, however that he had been called to the board on business.
Baltimore police identify officer charged with killing dog
Jeffrey Bolger is a 24-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department. He was charged Wednesday with animal cruelty, suspected of killing a dog in Canton.
WMAR Staff – 10:09 PM, Jun 18, 2014
Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
BALTIMORE – Baltimore police identified Jeffrey Bolger as the officer charged with animal cruelty after reportedly killing a dog in Canton, according to charging documents released by the department.
Bolger, 49, has been on the force since 1992.
Bolger, of the unit block of Saddle Drive in Eldersburg, was one of the officers to respond to the 900 block of South Grundy Street where fellow officers had contained a 7-year-old Shar-Pei in a parking lot on Saturday June 14, according to charging documents.
Officers called for back up to assist with the use of a dog pole, a device used to restrained the dog named Nala. Earlier in the day, Nala had bitten a Baltimore woman in the 700 block of South Grundy Street.
Upon Bolger’s arrival, an eye-witness overheard the veteran officer say “I’m going to f—— gut this thing,” according to charging documents.
Nala was foaming at the mouth and appeared malnourished when she was placed under control by police. Once the dog was on the ground, Bolger cut the dog’s throat, according to the statement of probable cause.
The dog was already dead by the time animal control had arrived.
This is a breaking news story. Refresh for updates.
City Police Local or State Control?
2 March 1975
March 2, 1975, the current session of the state legislator might be an opportune one in which to reverse 115 years of Marilyn history and return control of the Baltimore Police Department to city government, from which it was wrested in the long-ago days of Baltimore’s antebellum political disorders. The present police Commissioner Donald D. Pomerleau, has managed to rub many people the wrong way. His aloofness to local opinions as an official answerable only to the Gov. as arouse community and city Council ire. His cavalier attitude toward black complaints, coupled with alleged police spying on black political activities, has cost him black support, and organize labor cannot overlook his vindictive post-strike reprisals against the police union.
After fitful years of in different support, a bill to put the police commissioner back under the mayor’s us could arouse a winning margin this year. But the fact the impetus derives from a convergence of dissatisfactions with the present police Commissioner good in itself be a cause for caution. And legislators currently are investigating charges of illegal intelligence operations under Mr. Pomerleau’s command, and if they find sufficient evidence to discredit him, they should have no difficulty persuading Gov. Mandel to remove him from office. But how well or poorly an individual police Commissioner has performed should not be the deciding factor in the larger issue of where the ultimate control should lie. Governors have made wrong choices for police commissioners, and there is no reason why mayors would do any worse. They may even do better. The argument for placing the city Police Department under City Hall control are that it would a race in ancient defamation of Baltimore’s capacity for self-government and perhaps make the Department more responsive to local policing priorities. Nothing of which we know can justify an assertion that the city is not fully able to handle its own police matters. On the other side, the argument for preserving the anomaly of having the police commissioner under the Gov. is up by and large it has insulated the Commissioner from some of the intrusions of local politics and has encouraged official recognition of the state’s role in providing substantial financial support for police functions in Baltimore.
We see no reason to rush to the decision, particularly in atmosphere created by those anxious to get Mr. Pomerleau one way or another. Baltimore should be on guard against having the appointment of a police Commissioner become a labor issue or a racial issue or city election-year issue. We also see no reason for a public referendum, is one of the Annapolis bills would require. The book need to be passed to the public when Maryland legislators are fully capable of reconsidering an action of their predecessors many years ago. What is required is a careful, unemotional weighing of what is to be gained from city control of the Police Department against what might be lost in future state support of Marilyn Governors were relieved of any direct responsibility for policing in Baltimore.
By way of guidance, legislators might well benefit from having available the report of the Marilyn commission on the function of government, which is not until June. Since the commission has been studying the city police questioned as part of his examination of intergovernmental relations, the report could offer valuable perspective, whether legislation agrees or disagrees with the findings. Legislators may also want to pay closer attention this spring to how well the city Council exercises control over the police budget said that large outlays were, say, intelligence activities are subject to certain questions. In addition, prudence dictates some thought as to how the Police Department would function within city government for instance directly under the mayor or under a police of equivalent of the fire board?
The issue does not have to be settled at this legislative session, even if the votes can be mustered to affect a change. After 115 years there is time to send the question of appointment and control to the legislative Council for a thorough airing of all pertinent considerations this summer. Then the general assembly a year from now would be prepared to take a position not just for the moment but one that would stand up for the next 100 odd years, irrespective of who the police Commissioner may be.
Crime Scenes: Deaths of officers come in rapid succession
It’s not unusual for police department to lose two or more officers in a month’s time
October 21, 2010|By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun
The deaths of the city police officers came in such quick succession that the funeral for one had barely been planned before the next one died.
Off-duty Detective Brian Stevenson was killed Saturday night in Canton after being struck in the head with a chunk of concrete, apparently in a dispute over a parking space. Officer Thomas Portz Jr. was killed Wednesday morning when his cruiser ran into the back of a fire engine.
Two deaths. Four days.
Last month, Officer James Fowler was killed after losing control of his vehicle while driving to a training program in Pennsylvania.
Three deaths. Twenty-five days.
Baltimore police have lost more than 125 officers in the line of duty since an inmate fatally stabbed night watchman George Workner during a jailbreak in March 1808. Four suspects were hanged in the jail’s courtyard a month later.
Since then, the department has lost two or more officers in a single month at least a dozen times, the first in 1894 when two patrolmen were struck and killed by a locomotive at Chase and Eager streets.
Tragedy has often come in pairs for the Baltimore Police Department.
Three times, two officers died in the same incident — John D. Platt and Kevin McCarthy when a drunken driver plowed into their cruiser in 2000; Webster E. Schuman and Thomas J. Dillon when they were shot by a mental patient in 1926; and Michael Neary and James T. Dunn, the two patrolmen hit by the train.
Each death forces the 3,000-member Police Department to pause. Elaborate funerals need to be planned — this time, two at about the same time — full of pageantry that includes motorcades, bagpipes, eulogies, politicians and rifle salutes befitting a fraternal order that closes ranks when a member’s life ends violently. Black bunting will be hung from station houses; black mourning bands will be stretched across badges.
“It’s tough to handle,” said Robert F. Cherry, a former homicide detective and president of the police union. “When you have multiple deaths like this in a short period of time, it begins to affect so many officers in different parts of the city.”
It’s a large department, but cops tend to know other cops, and three killed in a matter of weeks means grief is spread out. Portz played on the same police hockey team with Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, and the two had recently golfed together at a charity tournament.
Bealefeld stayed away from the television cameras and did not make an official announcement of Portz’s death. He spent Wednesday night with the officer’s family in Pennsylvania. The commissioner, Cherry said, “finds himself in the same position as his officers on the street — he’s not burying a colleague, he’s burying a friend.”
These tragic few weeks have police thinking back to 1998.
On Oct. 30 of that year, Officer Harold J. Carey was killed when his prisoner van collided with a police cruiser on a city street. Five days later, Barry W. Wood died when his police helicopter crashed near the B&O Railroad Museum. Police commanders dressed for one burial spun out of Carey’s funeral procession on the Beltway and raced to the wreckage on West Pratt Street.
Cherry had skipped the funeral to help patrol the streets of the Central District, to allow Carey’s colleagues time off to attend the funeral. He ran into then-Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier at a call on Mount Royal Avenue, shortly after Wood had died.
“You could see the emptiness in his face,” Cherry recalled.
It wasn’t the first time. Here are some other cases of officers killed within a month of each other (the information comes from the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Memorial Fund):
Vincent J. Adolfo was fatally shot Nov. 18, 1985, a month after Richard J. Lear was hit by a car and killed. In September 1975, Edward Sherman succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning while sitting in his parked cruiser, and the next month Timothy B. Ridnour was shot and killed with his own weapon while making an arrest.
A year earlier, in 1974, Frank W. Glunder Jr. was shot and killed while serving a warrant, and two weeks later Milton I. Spell was shot by a drunken driver he had pulled over. In March 1973, Richard M. Hurley died of a heart attack while arresting a murder suspect, and seven days later Norman F. Buchman was shot and killed during a traffic stop.
On Christmas Day 1964, Jack L. Cooper was fatally shot in the back by a man suspected of shooting another cop, and three weeks later, Charles R. Ernets was crushed to death between two cars while directing traffic. In November 1934, John A. Stapf was struck and killed by a trolley, and a month later, Henry Sudmeier was fatally shot by another officer who mistook him for a burglar inside a church.
Viewings for Detective Brian Stevenson are scheduled 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at Vaughn Greene Funeral Home, 8728 Liberty Road, Randallstown. The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at New Antioch Baptist Church, 5609 Old Court Road in Randallstown.
Plans for services for Officer Thomas Portz Jr. have not been completed.
The Know Nothing movement was an American political movement that operated on a national basis during the mid-1850s. It promised to purify American politics by limiting or ending the influence of Irish Catholics and other immigrants, thus reflecting nativism and anti-Catholic sentiment. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, whom they saw as hostile to republican values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, but met with little success. Membership was limited to Protestant males. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class membership fragmented over the issue of slavery.
The most prominent leaders were ex-President Millard Fillmore (the party’s presidential nominee in 1856), Massachusetts Congressman Nathaniel P. Banks, and former congressman Lewis C. Levin.
Nativists were active in New York politics as early as 1843, under the banner of the American Republican Party. The movement quickly spread to other states, using that name or the Native American Party or some variant. They succeeded in a number of local and Congressional elections, notably in 1844 Philadelphia where the anti-Catholic orator Lewis Charles Levin was elected Member of Congress representing Pennsylvania’s 1st District. “Native Americans” ostensibly championed native-born Protestants but were basically opposed to Catholics, native-born or otherwise. Levin was a first-generation American Jew who had lived in four other states before arriving in Philadelphia. He served three terms in Congress, at the end of which he served as a leader and speechwriter for the Know-Nothings.
Some historians have attempted to argue that the “Native American” party had no continuity with the Know-Nothings because in the 1850s those party names were briefly used for rival tickets in elections. However for contemporary politicians the two factions were practically the same movement. When appearing as speaker at Know-Nothing conventions and rallies in 1855–56, Lewis Levin was usually hailed as one of the movement’s “founders” and one of the “old guard of ’44.” In the early 1850s, numerous secret orders grew up, of which the “Order of United Americans” and the Order of the Star Spangled Banner came to be the most important. They merged in New York in the early 1850s as a secret order that quickly spread across the North, reaching non-Catholics, particularly those who were lower middle class or skilled workmen. Outsiders called them “Know-Nothings”, and the name stuck. In 1855, the Know-Nothings first entered politics under the American Party label.
The origin of the “Know Nothing” term was in the semi-secret organization of the party. When a member was asked about its activities, he was supposed to reply, “I know nothing.” Later in history, the party is also referred to as the “American Party”.
The immigration of large numbers of Irish and German Catholics to the United States in the period between 1830 and 1860 made religious differences between Catholics and Protestants a political issue. Violence occasionally erupted at the polls. Protestants alleged that Pope Pius IX had put down the failed liberal Revolutions of 1848 and that he was an opponent of liberty, democracy and Republicanism. One Boston minister described Catholicism as “the ally of tyranny, the opponent of material prosperity, the foe of thrift, the enemy of the railroad, the caucus, and the school.” These fears encouraged conspiracy theories regarding papal intentions of subjugating the United States through a continuing influx of Catholics controlled by Irish bishops obedient to and personally selected by the Pope.
In 1849, an oath-bound secret society, the Order of the Star Spangled Banner, was created by one Charles B. Allen in New York City. Fear of Catholic immigration led to a dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party, whose leadership in many cities included Catholics of Irish descent. Activists formed secret groups, coordinating their votes and throwing their weight behind candidates sympathetic to their cause. When asked about these secret organizations, members were to reply “I know nothing,” which led to their popularly being called Know Nothings.
Immigration during the first five years of the 1850s reached a level five times greater than a decade earlier. Most of the new arrivals were poor Catholic peasants or laborers from Ireland and Germany who crowded into the tenements of large cities. Crime and welfare costs soared. Cincinnati’s crime rate, for example, tripled between 1846 and 1853 and its murder rate increased sevenfold. Boston’s expenditures for poor relief rose threefold during the same period.
—James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, p. 131.
In spring 1854, the Know Nothings carried Boston, Salem, and other New England cities. They swept the state of Massachusetts in the fall 1854 elections, their biggest victory. The Whig candidate for mayor of Philadelphia was editor Robert T. Conrad, soon revealed as a Know Nothing; he promised to crack down on crime, close saloons on Sundays, and to appoint only native-born Americans to office. He won by a landslide. In Washington, D.C., Know-Nothing candidate John T. Towers defeated incumbent Mayor John Walker Maury, causing opposition of such proportion that the Democrats, Whigs, and Freesoilers in the capital united as the “Anti-Know-Nothing Party”. In New York, in a four-way race, the Know-Nothing candidate ran third with 26%. After the 1854 elections, they claimed to have exerted decisive influence in Maine, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and California, but historians are unsure due to the secrecy, as all parties were in turmoil and the anti-slavery and prohibition issues overlapped with nativism in complex and confusing ways. They helped elect Stephen Palfrey Webb as Mayor of San Francisco, and J. Neely Johnson as Governor of California. They were still an unofficial movement with no centralized organization. The results of the 1854 elections were so favorable to the Know Nothings that they formed officially as a political party called the American Party, and attracted many members of the now nearly-defunct Whig party, as well as a significant number of Democrats and prohibitionists. Membership in the American Party increased dramatically, from 50,000 to an estimated one million plus in a matter of months during that year.
A Historian of the Know Nothing party concluded:
The key to Know Nothing success in 1854 was the collapse of the second party system, brought about primarily by the demise of the Whig party. The Whig party, weakened for years by internal dissent and chronic factionalism, was nearly destroyed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Growing anti-party sentiment, fueled by anti-slavery as well as temperance and nativism, also contributed to the disintegration of the party system. The collapsing second party system gave the Know Nothings a much larger pool of potential converts than was available to previous nativist organizations, allowing the Order to succeed where older nativist groups had failed.
In California in 1854, a man named Sam Roberts founded a Know-Nothing chapter in San Francisco, California. The group was formed in opposition to Chinese immigrants, and a judge of the state supreme court who was a member ruled that no Chinese person could testify as a witness against a white man in court.
Fillmore/Donelson campaign poster
In the spring of 1855, Levi Boone was elected Mayor of Chicago for the Know Nothings. He barred all immigrants from city jobs. Statewide, however, Republican Abraham Lincoln blocked the party from any successes.[clarification needed] Ohio was the only state where the party gained strength in 1855. Their Ohio success seems to have come from winning over immigrants, especially German American Lutherans and Scottish-Irish Presbyterians, both reputed to be hostile to Roman Catholicism. In Alabama, Know Nothings were a mix of former Whigs, malcontented Democrats, and other political outsiders who favored state aid to build more railroads. In the tempestuous 1855 campaign, the Democrats won by convincing state voters that Alabama Know Nothings would not protect slavery from Northern abolitionists.
Know-Nothings scored startling victories in northern state elections in 1854, winning control of the legislature in Massachusetts and polling 40% of the vote in Pennsylvania. Although most of the new immigrants lived in the North, resentment and anger against them was national, and the American Party initially polled well in the South, attracting the votes of many former southern Whigs. Their incomes, occupation and social status were about average, but few Know-Nothings were wealthy, according to detailed historical studies of once-secret membership rosters. Fewer than 10% were unskilled workers who might come in direct competition with Irish laborers. They enlisted few farmers, but on the other hand, they included many merchants and factory owners. The party’s voters were by no means all native born Americans, for it won more than a fourth of the German and British Protestants in numerous state elections. It especially appealed to Protestants such as the Lutherans, Dutch Reformed, and Presbyterians.
The party name gained wide but brief popularity. Nativism became a new American rage: Know-Nothing candy, Know-nothing tea, and Know-Nothing toothpicks appeared. Stagecoaches were dubbed “The Know-Nothing”. In Trescott, Maine, a ship owner dubbed his new 700-ton freighter, Know-Nothing. The party was occasionally referred to contemporaneously in the slightly pejorative shortening, “Knism”.
Fearful that Catholics were flooding the polls with non-citizens, local activists threatened to stop them. Tensions came to a head on 6 August 1855, in Louisville, Kentucky, where in a hotly contested race for the office of governor, 22 were killed and many injured. The Louisville riot was only the most spectacular of violent riots between Know Nothing activists and Catholics in 1855. In Baltimore the mayoral elections of 1856, 1857 and 1858 were all marred by violence and well-founded accusations of ballot-rigging. In Maine, Know-Nothings were associated with the tarring and feathering of a Catholic priest, Father John Bapst, in the coastal town of Ellsworth in 1851 and the burning of a Catholic church in Bath in 1854.
In the South, the American Party was composed chiefly of ex-Whigs looking for a vehicle to fight the dominant Democratic Party and worried about both the pro-slavery extremism of the Democrats and the emergence of the anti-slavery Republican party in the North. In the South as a whole the American Party was strongest among former Unionist Whigs. States-rightist Whigs shunned it, enabling the Democrats to win most of the South. Whigs supported the American Party because of their desire to defeat the Democrats, their unionist sentiment, their anti-immigrant attitudes, and the Know-Nothing neutrality on the slavery issue. In 1855 the American Party challenged the Democrats’ dominance. In Alabama, the Know-Nothings were a mix of former Whigs, malcontented Democrats, and other political misfits; they favored state aid to build more railroads. In the fierce campaign, the Democrats argued that Know-Nothings could not protect slavery from Northern abolitionists. The Know-Nothing American Party disintegrated soon after losing in 1855.
In Louisiana and Maryland, the Know-Nothings enlisted native-born Catholics. Historian Michael F. Holt argues that “Know Nothingism originally grew in the South for the same reasons it spread in the North—nativism, anti-Catholicism, and animosity toward unresponsive politicos—not because of conservative Unionism.” Holt cites William B. Campbell, former governor of Tennessee, who wrote in January 1855, “I have been astonished at the widespread feeling in favor of their principles—to wit, Native Americanism and anti-Catholicism—it takes everywhere.”
Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage for Fillmore in each county.
The party declined rapidly in the North after 1855. In the presidential election of 1856, it was bitterly divided over slavery. The main faction supported the ticket of presidential nominee Millard Fillmore and vice-presidential nominee Andrew Jackson Donelson. Fillmore, a former President, had been a Whig, and Donelson was the nephew of Democratic President Andrew Jackson, so the ticket was designed to appeal to loyalists from both major parties, winning 23% of the popular vote and carrying one state, Maryland, with eight electoral votes. Fillmore did not win enough votes to block Democrat James Buchanan from the White House.
After the Supreme Court’s controversial Dred Scott v. Sandford ruling in 1857, most of the anti-slavery members of the American Party joined the Republican Party. The pro-slavery wing of the American Party remained strong on the local and state levels in a few southern states, but by the 1860 election, they were no longer a serious national political movement. Most of their remaining members supported the Constitutional Union Party in 1860.
The Plug Uglies were a street gang, sometimes referred to as a political club, that operated in the west side of Baltimore, Maryland from 1854 to 1860.
The Plug Uglies coalesced shortly after the creation of the Mount Vernon Hook-and-Ladder Company, a volunteer fire company whose truck house was on Biddle Street, between Pennsylvania Avenue and Ross Street (later Druid Hill). They were originally runners and rowdies affiliated with the Mount Vernon. Plug Ugly captains included John English and James Morgan. Other prominent members were Louis A. Carl, George Coulson, George “Howard” Davis, Henry Clay Gambrill, Alexander Levy, Erasmus “Ras” Levy, James Wardell, and Wesley Woodward. The gang associated with the emerging American Party (the Know Nothings) in Baltimore.
Like similar associations in Baltimore and other United States cities during this period, the Plug Uglies’ street influence made them useful to party politicians anxious to control the polls on Election Days. The Plug Uglies were the central figures in the first election riot in Baltimore in October 1855. Together with the Rip Raps, they were also actively involved in deadly rioting at the October 1856 municipal election in Baltimore and in similar violence at the Know-Nothing Riot in Washington in June 1857. At the Washington riot, the National Guard called out to quell the fighting, shot and killed ten citizens. Accounts of the Washington riot appeared in newspapers nationally and gained widespread notoriety for the Plug Uglies.
Besides election-day fighting, the gang was involved in several assassinations and shootings in Baltimore. Most notably, Plug Ugly Henry Gambrill was implicated in the murder of a Baltimore police officer in September 1858. Gambrill’s trial (presided over by judge Henry Stump) and the subsequent deadly violence relating to it, made the crime one of the most sensational of the era.
The violence of the Plug Uglies and other political clubs had an important impact on Baltimore. It was largely responsible for the creation of modern policing and a paid, professional fire department, as well as court and electoral reforms. These reforms, together with the election of a Reform municipal administration in October 1860 and then the Civil War, led to the breaking up of the Plug Uglies.
The gang was featured in Herbert Asbury’s book Gangs of New York, and Luc Sante’s chronicle of old New York, Low Life.
On July 16, 1863, during the New York City draft riots, The New York Times reported that Plug-Uglies and Blood Tubs gang members from Baltimore, as well as “Scuykill Rangers and other rowdies of Philadelphia,” had come to New York to participate in the riots alongside the Dead Rabbits and other New York gangs. The Times said that “the scoundrels cannot afford to miss this golden opportunity of indulging their brutal natures, and at the same time serving their colleagues the Copperheads and secesh [secessionist] sympathizers.”
Aerial Police Plan Useless, Tipton Thinks
6 December 1924 M. N. G. Air Service Chief Points To Difficulties of Enforcing Ordinance.Commander Favors Congressional Act
Approved Law Prohibiting Flying Over Baltimore Stadium.
Creation of an aerial police force for Baltimore, as suggested by Charles D Gaither, Commissioner of police, provided the proposed ordinance regulating airplanes is enacted by the city Council, would not aid effectively in the enforcement of the ordinance, Maj. William D Tipton, commanding officer of the 29th division Air service, Maryland National Guard, said last night.
“Aerial police would have to be in the air continuously” Mayor Tipton declared. “How would they be able to catch a possible offender flying over Baltimore unless they were? It is impossible to take off from the ground in a few seconds. The motor has to be warmed, and usually it takes from 5 to 10 minutes to get into action. By that time offender could be miles away.
Favors Congressional action.
“It is the opinion of many who have given the matter serious consideration that it is far better to wait Congressional action on air regulations for the whole country.”
“If every city passes laws regulating air traffic the result would be a patchwork. I understand many of the cities are delaying passage of such ordinances until Congress acts.”
England, Germany and France, he asserts, prohibit low-flying over cities and they accomplish their aid without the aid of aerial police.
A bill for the regulation of airplanes now is before Congress, he explained. It provides for inspection of planes, licensing of pilots, marking of the Windows of planes so as to identify them regularly and regulates flying over congested areas.
Cities Army regulations.
Asked how the proposed city ordinance would affect plans of air services of the Maryland National Guard, Major Tipton said it would have no effect.
“Our standing orders are that none of our planes shall leave a certain designated area bounded on the north by East and Avenue and on the west by Sparrows Point Bay Shore Carline.”
Is it any time the National Guard planes have to fly outside that area on business connected with the Army, he explained, they will be governed by Army regulations, in this connection, he added, Army regulations provide that new airplane shall fly and altitude lower than that which will allow a safe glide outside the congested area with a dead engine.
Major Tipton said he thought it proper to act in ordinance prohibiting flying over the Baltimore stadium.
Baltimore Police Honor Officers in Awards Ceremony
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
8:38 p.m. EST, February 7, 2014
The Baltimore Police Department’s top brass recognized officers for bravery and excellence on Friday, the first time the awards ceremony has been held in more than two years.
Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake handed out the awards to 30 officers from across the agency. Recipients were shot at and run over. They interrupted assaults, sprang into action while off-duty, or solved complex cases.
“We cannot thank you enough for the hard work and courage you have given in your daily jobs,” Batts told the officers. “It’s going to be people like you that are going to make a difference in the city of Baltimore.”
Top honors — inclusion in the agency’s “Legion of Merit” — went to detectives Robert Himes and Joshua Ellsworth for their investigation into the case of a Bloods gang member who was kidnapped and killed.
Himes and Ellsworth arrested Dajuan Marshall in June 2008 for fatally shooting rival gang member Kenneth Jones near The Block adult entertainment district in downtown.
The case, prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorney Traci Robinson, led to a conviction in 2011 on a murder conspiracy charge, as well as the first conviction for charges filed under the state’s gang statute. Robinson was also honored.
Another award dates to a 2009 incident, when Capt. Byron Conaway, who at the time was an officer, was slipped a note by a woman who said she was in danger. When Conaway saw the man who had been in a car with her reach for a handgun, Conaway shot him.
The man, Marcus Hill, survived and was sentenced in August 2010 to 15 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a handgun. Conaway received the departmental Bronze Star.
Three officers who fatally shot suspects were given the Silver Star: Officer Charles Smith III, who in 2011 saw a man shooting at his wife and fatally shot him; Detective Olufemi Akinwande, who police said in January 2013 shot a man who fired a weapon at him; and Officer Timothy Copeland, who last May shot Van Keith Johnson, who police say had shot someone moments earlier in Pigtown.
Of the 30 officers honored, 12 had been involved in an incident in which a suspect was shot. A police spokesman said all of the officers had been cleared in internal reviews and the awards were decided in consultation with internal affairs and city prosecutors.
Officers Keith Savadel and Sgt. James Cardarella were recognized for pursuing an armed man whose gun malfunctioned when he turned and tried to fire at them. Police said the officers charged at the man and after a fight brought him under control.
Officer Michael Clanton II, who the agency said responded to an assault-in-progress call and ordered the attacker to drop a weapon, received a Bronze Star. Sgt. Keith Gladstone and Officers Carl Randolph and Lisa Coleman-Smith also received a Bronze Star for tackling a suspect who had fired a shot while holding up a business in Northwest Baltimore.
Members of the check and fraud unit — Lt. Regis Flynn, Sgt. Sarah Connolly, Sgt. Dennis Raftery, and detectives Dale Wood, Samuel Bowden, Shirley Disney, and Christopher Boyd — also were recognized for an investigation that led to the arrest of five people accused of scamming and robbing the elderly.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Not in Favor of Marijuana Legalization
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
7:19 PM EST, January 30, 2014
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts in a radio interview on Thursday evening expressed doubt that marijuana should be legalized.
Batts, responding to a question from host Anthony McCarthy on WEAA, discussed his own upbringing in describing his view on marijuana, which recently became legal in two states. Batts said he grew up in a poor neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles, but attend a “very rich” high school 90 minutes away.
He said the students there were children of movie directors, lawyers and bankers.
“Those kids experimented with drugs, but when they went to a certain age, they dropped those habits and went into corporate America,” Batts said. “The norm of society was, ‘You can play with this, then you have to move away.'”
But in his neighborhood, he said, use of the drug created problems. “They were never able to get off those drugs, and move on to harder drugs,” Batts said.
He said he worried about what effect legalization would have in Baltimore. “We already have a city with a high addiction – what would that do to the city of Baltimore?” Batts said.
Batts also referenced marijuana when discussing a jump in homicides this year.
“Homicide is an immediate impact, the most egregious,” he said. “But what we’re dealing with right now … is that some people are putting themselves in a position to have these incidents taking place. I’m not saying the loss of life is anyone’s fault, but when you’re calling your weed dealer or drug dealer, and you show up with money and you get robbed and it turn’s into a shooting, that’s what we’re seeing.”
He continued, “if you call a guy who has weed, and you meet him in a dark alley, which we’ve had happen, those are ending up in very problematic … situations.”
In a Twitter town hall chat earlier in the day, Batts was asked about the high number of shootings tied in some way to vehicles. “We are starting to see a pattern of weed deliveries where drug victims are meeting dealers in cars.” After being asked later why police pursue drug busts, he said “were [sic] seeing a lot of violence surrounding marijuana home invasions [sic] we will follow the violence whereever it leads to.”
His comments echoed those of Gov. Martin O’Malley, who said earlier this month in a radio interview that he was “not much in favor of it. We’ve seen what drug addiction has done to the people of our state, to the people of our city.” And Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she supported diversionary programs for drug users who are arrested but said she would not be “waving the Schmoke flag of legalization.”
A group of state lawmakers have launched an effort to pass a bill in this year’s legislative session that would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Maryland.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Deputy Commissioner Anthony Barksdale
(Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun / July 3, 2012)
Anthony E. Barksdale, who ran the operations of the Baltimore Police Department for five years during some of the city’s most significant declines in crime, has retired.
A city native, Barksdale became the youngest deputy commissioner in the agency’s history in 2007 at age 35 when Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III named him to the post.
With Barksdale running operations, the Bealefeld regime was able to curb a march toward 300 homicides that year, and in 2008 the city saw one of the largest year-over-year drops ever, from 282 killings to 234, as part of a focused strategy that involved fewer arrests.
Three years later, the city recorded fewer than 200 killings for its lowest homicide rate since 1988.
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young called Barksdale the “architect” of the crime strategy that led to the declines. “He was really the driving force,” Young said. “I can’t see how we let him get away.”
When Bealefeld retired in 2012, Barksdale became acting commissioner and was considered by some to be a front-runner for the post.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake instead chose California law enforcement veteran Anthony W. Batts, and Barksdale, who has suffered from heart problems, went on medical leave days before Batts arrived. Barksdale remained on medical leave until his retirement, ending a 20-year career with the force.
Barksdale, now 42, declined to comment.
“Deputy Barksdale was the quiet leader behind the scenes, away from the cameras and receiving little credit, who helped shape the violent crime units that over the years were instrumental in reducing crime in Baltimore,” said Robert F. Cherry, president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police lodge.
“He wasn’t afraid to go to bat for a cop who had proved to be a worker on the street. And part of that is because Tony himself was a worker — just ask anyone who broke the law in the Southern District where he worked as a rookie police officer and earned the nickname ‘Hurricane.'”
Throughout his tenure, Barksdale rarely spoke publicly. In an interview in 2008 along with other commanders, he said his philosophy was to have his officers from the Violent Crimes Impact Section — since renamed and reduced in size — focus on historically violent areas.
“It’s a basic principle: cops at the right areas, at the right times,” he said. Previous efforts had been “fractured,” he said, with units sometimes working within blocks of each other but unaware of each other.
During that time, the department publicly distanced itself from zero-tolerance policies and focused on guns rather than drugs, which coincided with steep drops in gun violence.
Batts now has two people doing Barksdale’s job after creating a third deputy commissioner position. In addition to a deputy commissioner for “professional standards,” he has a deputy overseeing neighborhood patrol and another overseeing investigations and intelligence.
“We thank Deputy Commissioner Barksdale for his dedicated service to the department and wish him the very best in his future endeavors,” said Lt. J. Eric Kowalczyk, a police spokesman.
Baltimore’s First African-American Police Commissioner
Bishop Robinson dead at 86
” Bishop L. Robinson (left), was the first African American police commissioner of Baltimore, Maryland
who was Commissioner of the Department between 1984 and 1987. (Kenny Driscoll Det. Ret.)
Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
BALTIMORE – UPDATE (4:30 p.m.) — The first African-American Police Commissioner in the history of the Baltimore Police Department died Monday, a department spokesman said.
“I’m so sorry that he died,” Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said in a statement. “He broke the racial barriers in the police department and he did it with strength and great dignity. He was a very strong leader in that department and very highly respected. He went on to be involved in many other areas of civic life as well. He will be truly missed.”
Bishop L. Robinson died at the age of 86. He served as commissioner from 1984 to 1987 and later served Secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services from 1987 to 1997.
“When Commissioner Robinson joined the police department in 1952 the role and scope of African American officers was severely restricted,” Baltimore police spokesman Lt. Eric Kowalczyck wrote in a release. “African American officers were not allowed to patrol white neighborhoods or use patrol cars. During his career the United States saw the advancement of the Civil Rights movement, opening the door for Commissioner Robinson to advance in rank.
“His ascendancy to command the Baltimore Police Department is a testament to his perseverance, character, and dedication to duty,” the release continued. “Fighting through a culture that was in the midst of changing, Commissioner Robinson gained the respect and admiration of his peers and subordinates.”
Robinson was one of the founding members of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. The Annex Headquarters Building at Fayette and Presidents streets is named in his honor.
“We are saddened by the loss of Commissioner Bishop Robinson, he was our Jackie Robinson.” said retired Baltimore police Det. Kenny Driscoll.
Driscoll runs the website BaltimoreCityPoliceHistory.com.
“He broke color barriers in one of America’s toughest careers, for one of America’s best police forces, the Baltimore Police Department, we were all proud to have served for him, and sorry to see him go,” Driscoll said.
Baltimore officials expressed their condolences to the Robinson family, toasting his service to city.
“Commissioner Robinson was a pioneer in the field of public safety and Baltimoreans benefited from his tireless efforts to improve our city,” City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young said in a statement. “His successes inspired countless men and women to dedicate their lives to public service.
“I enjoyed the privilege of working alongside Mr. Robinson and I was extremely proud of his career of service, which was showcased last February during a dedication ceremony for a public justice institute at Coppin State University that bears his name,” the statement continued. “The institute stands as a tribute to his enduring legacy.”
Councilman Carl Stokes added, “Although he led a lengthy career representing Baltimore’s finest, the fact that he was an African American leader meant he faced many barriers, adapted and overcame.
“We have lost an able statesman whose wisdom, experience and proactive leadership will be dearly missed at a time when cities like ours could benefit from his wisdom and expertise,” Stokes said in a statement to the media.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Stay with ABC2 News as we continue to update this story.
Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
A Dismal Snapshot of Law Enforcement in Baltimore ANALYSIS: The real value of the report by consultants is not its “camera-ready” recommendations, but the disturbing findings of departmental dysfunction
Forget the reassuring words by the mayor and police commissioner this afternoon about their strategy to fight crime in Baltimore.
Their joint press conference, timed to the release of a report on improving public safety, was full of affirmations about their commitment to “meet the current challenges we face,” in the mayor’s words, and included community leaders displayed at City Hall as helpful props for the TV news cameras.
In short, standard stuff from the handbook of crisis management as the city heads into the second straight year of rising homicides.
But there was real value in the report, ordered by Police Chief Anthony Batts, following a $285,000 review of the department by Boston-based Strategic Police Partnership in conjunction with former LAPD Police Chief William J. Bratton.
In a Reactive Mode
The value is found in the back pages of the document where the state of police operations are described in detail. Even taking into account that the consultants had an incentive to find fault (if only to justify their sizeable paycheck), the report paints a disturbing portrait of a dysfunctional department.
Among the findings:
• Up to 40% of the posts on each shift are staffed on overtime, “so sergeants are often supervising personnel from other shifts or even other districts.”
• The practice of staffing all posts at all times – “regardless of the call-for-service load and crime conditions” – is not only costing the city plenty in overtime, but “undermining morale and helping to drive attrition.”
• The city’s nine police districts have not be adjusted “since the 1980s” when the city’s population was 130,000 greater and concentrated in different neighborhoods than today.
• The eight-hour work schedule is obsolete and requires alternatives for more effective crime fighting.
• The patrol force “has become disengaged from the problems on the street, and particularly from crime.”
• And perhaps most damning: “the districts are largely functioning in a reactive mode, responding to calls, but doing little else to assert police control in the neighborhoods.”
Losing Focus on Repeat Offenders
Over the last few years, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has placed emphasis on finding and jailing the city’s most violent repeat offenders.
That strategy was endorsed by former Police Chief Frederick H. Bealefeld III – targeting “bad guys with guns” was how he liked to put it – and “tough justice” was the mantra of Gregg Bernstein’s successful campaign for state’s attorney in 2010.
But the violent repeat offender (VRO) program administered by the police and state’s attorney’s office has “lost its impetus and focus in recent years,” according to the report. The program’s centerpiece, the VRO lists, have become “too long and insufficiently selective” in part because some police commanders in charge of identifying VROs in their districts have fallen down on the job.
Compounding the problem is the lack of effective communication between police and prosecutors. “Some in the [police] department believe that the State’s Attorney’s Office controls the VRO list,” the report says, “but the State’s Attorney’s Office representatives maintain that they are reliant on the department for most of the identifications.
“There have also been some differences about when a VRO can be removed from the list, with the State’s Attorney’s Office favoring retaining VRO names until subjects have been successfully prosecuted and sentenced to at least two years in prison, and some BPD officers urging a quicker turnover.”
Detectives Serving as Clerks
In the growing area of homicides – up to 211 so far this year – there are multiple administrative problems. The consultants praise the concept of the District Detective Units (DDUs), saying decentralization helps police nurture informants and pick up knowledge about “the worst actors in the local criminal population.”
But while the structural configuration is good, the nine DDUs “have been understaffed and subject to a wide range in the quality of their management.” Suffering worst from the understaffing – as few as seven detectives per district – are investigations of non-violent crimes such as burglaries.
“There is often a lone burglary detective in a given district contending with hundreds of burglaries per year and basically performing what some managers call a ‘data-entry function’ rather than a true investigative role.”
(The consultants could have added many stories from residents about the absence of police work in solving break-ins and other property crimes that hit home for so many citizens and deeply impact the city’s quality of life.)
Beating the System
The report goes on to cite other deficiencies that lead to “bad guys with guns” beating the system.
Up to 25% of cases dismissed in court are the result of a police officer’s failure to appear at the scheduled court proceeding, the consultants report.
The overall quality of report writing by officers is “poor” and their courtroom testimony “weak” – two prime reasons why convictions are so hard to get from Baltimore City juries.
Sugarcoating the Findings
Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Chief Batts emphasized the future, saying the department would undertake steps between now and 2018 (a Five-Year Plan!) to reduce crime, improve services, increase efficiency and redouble community engagement.
“We know that there are things as an organization that we are incredibly good at,” Batts said without citing any specifics. Speaking in generalities to the media, he sugarcoated the systematic problems revealed by consultant Bratton and his team.
Hopefully in private, the commissioner will read the report carefully and start wringing out results more effectively than his officers are doing on the street.
Baltimore’s top elected officials set to receive automatic raise
Mayor Rawlings-Blake hasn’t decided whether she’ll donate her raise to charity
By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun
11:45 AM EST, November 26, 2013
Baltimore’s top politicians are set to receive automatic 2.5 percent pay raises, following a years-old decision by an independent body.
The salary hikes — which would increase the mayor’s $159,380 salary to $163,365 — are tied to raises that city union workers receive each year, according to a 2010 decision by the Compensation Commission for Elected Officials.
All together, this year’s raises for the mayor, comptroller and city council members would cost nearly $31,000. The cost-of-living increases would take effect in January following a legal vetting by the Board of Estimates on Wednesday.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has not yet decided what she’ll do with the money, Caron A. Brace, a mayoral spokeswoman, said.
“In previous years, the mayor has donated these increases to charity, particularly during the height of the recession,” Brace said.
The Compensation Commission for Elected Officials, designed to add a buffer to the politically sensitive issue of raises for elected officials, is an independent board that was created in 2006 by a citywide ballot referendum.
The commission approved the 2.5 percent increases for each year from 2010 to 2014 as long as at least one city union group also receives a raise. The Board of Estimates must approve all major city expenditures, although the panel is asked only to “note” that the salary adjustments are in compliance with the law.
The Board of Estimates is asked to authorize two percent pay raises for crossing guards and health department workers, including nurses, that are part of the city’s temporary staff. Increases to the rates paid to city auditors and firefighters, per the most recent union contract, also are up for approval.
Salaries for Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt will grow to $108,173 from $105,535.
Council members are to receive $1,535 more a year for an annual salary of $62,918. The council vice president, Edward Reisinger, would be paid $69,540, up from $67,844.
Young will donate his raise to a charity, his spokesman Lester Davis said Monday. The state constitution mandates that elected officials cannot “diminish” their salary, but they can donate it. Davis said Young would designate his charitable gifts rather than see a donation revert to the general fund.
“He’ll use the increase to help others,” Davis said.
The pending raises didn’t draw immediate concern.
Councilman Carl Stokes said the cost-of-living adjustment is in line with increases received by city workers and individuals who receive Social Security benefits.
“I’m OK with it,” said Stokes, who is chairman of the City Council’s Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee.
“I didn’t demand it. I didn’t vote on it, but I think it’s OK.”
Several union officials, including Robert F. Cherry, president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police, and Michael B. Campbell, president of the fire officers union, declined to comment.
Rawlings-Blake enacted earlier this year an overhaul of the city’s finances to address a projected $750 million structural deficit. The mayor’s plans call for changes to the health care and pension systems and property tax decreases coupled with fee increases, such as new charges for stormwater management and taxi riders.
Council members are scheduled to receive a budget briefing in a public hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. This year’s budget is $2.4 billion.
The mayor’s salary has grown significantly in recent years. The rate increased from $95,000 to $108,000 in 1999. Before 1995, the salary for the city’s chief executive was $60,000.
Richard A. “Dick” Simmons, a retired Baltimore police officer who was a founder and first president of the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, died Tuesday of complications from an aneurysm at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 84.
Mr. Simmons was born and raised in Chicago, where he graduated from high school.
“Because of the Depression, his parents couldn’t afford to keep him, and when he was 4 years old they placed him in Lawrence Hall, a home for boys that was run by an Episcopal priest,” said his daughter, Janet Embleton of Franklin, W.Va.
“When he was 15, he ran away and lied about his age and then joined the merchant marine and then the Navy. He left the Navy in the 1950s, when his ship docked in Baltimore and he stayed,” she said.
Mr. Simmons joined the Baltimore Police Department in 1955. At his retirement in 1979, he was working at police headquarters as a detective assigned to the robbery squad.
After leaving the department, he worked for a decade as an investigator for the Maryland attorney general’s office until retiring for a second time in 1995.
He was a founder in 1966 of the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 and served as the organization’s first president until 1973. He was also its first national trustee to the Fraternal Order of Police Grand Lodge.
The Westminster resident enjoyed stamp collecting, gardening and fishing. He was a world traveler.
He was a member of Ascension Episcopal Church in Westminster.
His wife of 29 years, the former Anne Ningurd, died in 1982. His second wife of 19 years, the former Naomi Teeter, died in 2004.
A memorial service will be held at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Fletcher Funeral Home, 254 E. Main St., Westminster.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Simmons is survived by two grandchildren and his companion, Eve McGrory of Hagerstown. His son, Michael Simmons, drowned in 1981.
God Bless him as he now Rest In Peace…
Batts’ Crime-Fighting Plan Focuses On Gangs, Guns, Violent Offenders
It would bring change to nearly every part of city department
By Justin George, Justin Fenton and Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun
9:12 PM EST, November 21, 2013
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts wants to stop sending officers out on low-priority 911 calls, expand foot patrols and create a unit focused on investigating incidents in which police use force.
He proposes assigning homicide detectives to city neighborhoods, beefing up investigative units and sending elite plainclothes officers to more police districts. He wants to install tiny cameras on officers’ uniforms and put computer tablets in their hands.
A year on the job, Batts on Thursday unveiled an overarching crime-fighting plan he said would bring “much-needed” and “long-sought-after reform” in a department he said has relied too heavily on outdated procedures and technology.
In a nearly 200-page report, compiled with outside consultants at a cost of $285,000, Batts calls for changes in nearly every area of the city department.
“This is our corporate business plan,” he said. “Reform and change comes slowly, but it will come.”
More than 70 local leaders — city officials, police commanders, academics and neighborhood activists — joined Batts and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at City Hall as they announced the new strategy.
“We understand that crime is not static — what worked in previous years may not work now or in the future,” Rawlings-Blake said. “The report speaks some honest and hard truths about where we have to make improvements while acknowledging that many of our current efforts are taking us in the right direction.”
The report mentions, but doesn’t offer proposals to address, long-standing issues such as the department’s district boundaries, which have remained the same for more than three decades while the city’s population shifted dramatically.
And while a police survey reports that just 9 percent of officers describe morale as “good,” the plan says little about how to improve the department’s working conditions.
Noticeably absent from the unveiling was Robert F. Cherry, president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police. The union last year put out its own blueprint for the department, with proposals to improve recruiting and retention, redraw police boundaries and bolster community policing.
Reached after the City Hall event, Cherry was terse.
“We’re going to read the entire report,” he said. “In those instances where we agree or disagree, we’ll bring it to the attention of the police commissioner and mayor.”
Some questioned whether such sweeping changes were realistic for a department struggling with budget and attrition problems, and which was criticized this week by the American Civil Liberties Union for failing to keep adequate records or maintain oversight of police stops and individual searches.
Batts is calling for 46 new general orders — the regulations by which officers operate — and 21 new forms, even as the department struggles to adhere to guidelines already in place. For years, a review found, police stopped conducting training reviews of police-involved shootings.
Most of the recommendations were classified as “budget neutral,” but many could increase costs. Batts proposes hiring more consultants, buying new technology, increasing staff in key areas and transforming the city’s Watch Center for surveillance operations into a “bona fide, departmental intelligence fusion center.”
“I don’t think we’re biting off more than we can chew,” Batts said. “We’re going to win the confidence back from all angles of this community.”
City Councilman Brandon Scott, the vice chair of the public safety committee, said the report largely summarized many of the agency’s continuing efforts.
“Even though I don’t think we needed to spend $250,000 for this document, it’s evident that all of us agree that these are the things we need to be doing,” Scott said. “The devil is in the details of how we come together to make it happen.”
City Councilman Robert Curran has been pushing for years to have district boundaries redrawn to gain more resources in the Northeastern District he represents.
The plan refers to the possibility of dividing the 17-square-mile district in half and running a pilot program in which officers wouldn’t be tethered to specific police posts. But Curran didn’t see changes outlined that will add officers.
“I’m hoping it means in the next six to eight months that they will come up with a plan to get more officers here,” he said.
Batts said it could take another year.
Doug Ward, the director of the Division of Public Safety Leadership at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, said plans as broad as Batts’ can be difficult to implement but are necessary.
“The changing of an organization and its culture takes years. But you have to start somewhere,” he said. “If you do it right, it has more of a chance of working than doing nothing or just putting out fires.”
Ward said Batts is a “guy who gets it.”
“If anybody can pull it off, he can,” he said.
William Bratton, who has headed the police departments of New York, Los Angeles and Boston, was one of the architects of the plan. He said Batts directed the consultants to come up with “measurable goals that he, himself, could be held accountable for.”
Bratton said he believed the plan would help drive down homicides and crime in Baltimore.
“Crime — the good news about it is — it’s suppressible,” he said. “Even if you press it down low, there’s always the opportunity for it to spike up. That’s why you design the systems that can quickly identify that spike and have the solutions to that spike. Commissioner Batts now has the game plan … to address those spikes.”
Since taking over in late September 2012, Batts has revamped the way detectives present photo lineups to witnesses in conjunction with the Innocence Project, a group that works to free defendants who have been wrongly convicted. The report signals more well-known figures in crime-fighting will be coming to help.
Batts says the department plans to adopt the Operation Ceasefire program, in which a city’s most violent offenders are ordered to attend meetings at which they’re told law enforcement will bring pressure until shootings stop.
That would be a reunion of city police with Ceasefire founder David Kennedy, who said his previous efforts in the 1990s here failed because of transitions in political and police leadership.
This time around, he said, he has unwavering support from Batts and city officials.
“There’s clearly a very, very strong and committed desire on part of the city to make this work,” Kennedy said.
George Kelling, one of the authors of the “Broken Windows” theory — often cited as driving down crime in New York City in the 1990s — is also on tap to help Batts with a campaign to “take back public spaces.”
The approach involves focusing on minor offenses such as littering that Batts said would help the city drive down crime around areas like the Pimlico Race Course and Lexington Market.
Batts said some of the changes could take months or years to implement. Others have already been adopted. Still more could require changes to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, a state law for police that is one of the most favorable to officers in the country.
A new unit that uses “light duty” officers, including those rehabilitating from injuries, has already begun responding to emergency callers who aren’t facing immediate danger by taking police reports over the phone. The setup is intended to keep more patrol officers on the street.
Resources could be a challenge. The report recommended pulling the authority to investigate police-involved shootings from homicide detectives and placing it with a team specifically tasked with probing police use of force. It calls for boosting foot patrols and creating “Emergency Action Teams,” bolstering training efforts and increasing the number of officers focused on gangs.
Other recommendations include adding detectives to the Special Enforcement Section. Known previously as the Violent Crimes Impact Section, the plainclothes unit developed a reputation for aggressive policing and corruption and was stripped down.
The report calls for increasing — or perhaps replenishing — its ranks, and expanding it from parts four police districts to cover the entire city.
Police also plan to assign homicide detectives to geographic regions so they can share in gathering and sharing intelligence on suspects with other detectives and units.
Deputy Police Commissioner John Skinner said the proposal, which has been tried before, will be treated as a pilot program before any permanent changes affect the Homicide Unit. Homicide detectives historically have conducted their investigations autonomously.
Sergeants could soon take over internal investigations from rank-and-file detectives to reduce conflicts of interests between officers investigating their own colleagues — a proposal Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said will also help increase morale within the department.
Batts said he hoped to improve morale with pay increases and what he said would be a fairer system of promotions, based on performance and not political “cliques.”
Homicide ruling brings back memories of 1981 police shooting
Two retired Baltimore police officers relive the only time they fired their service weapons
By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun
9:39 PM EDT, June 17, 2013
The two police retirees remember the shooting as if it was yesterday. The chill in the air. The call that came in as a hostage situation. The nickel plating on the gun they wished the man had never drawn.
The suspect missed, but the officers didn’t. Three decades passed and Lawrence “Larry” Knott and Robert Menas often thought back to the only moment they ever fired their service weapons as Baltimore police officers.
“The whole thing was like three seconds,” Menas recalled. “Boom. Boom, boom, boom.”
The intensity of those seconds gripped the officers again this spring when they learned that Carl D. Robinson had died of his injuries after 32 years. The coroner recently labeled Robinson’s death a homicide, and police and prosecutors consider it justified.
When the former partners look back on that day in 1981, they feel sorry for Robinson but have no regrets. Had they not pulled the trigger, they said, they believe they could have been the ones buried.
“I never felt so close to being killed,” Menas said.
Over 32 years, Knott and Menas both experienced the deaths of wives and the births of grandchildren. Knott, 62, spends his time tending to his hunting dogs and his cats, while Menas, 68, does as many household chores as his aching hip, knee and surgically repaired back will allow.
They complain about their fading physical capabilities, but their memories from the morning of Jan. 17, 1981, remain clear.
Knott, then 29, was a sergeant and shift commander in the Northwestern District. He had been an officer for almost nine years. Menas, then 35, had been on the force for 13 years.
They were both at the Northwest Baltimore police station when dispatchers sent them to the 5000 block of Norwood Ave., where a man was reported holding his mother hostage.
At the house, a teen told officers that Robinson, his 21-year-old brother, had accused him of stealing a pencil, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, reading an old police report.
Speaking to the family, Menas said, he remembers learning that the argument had grown into a fight. The brothers ended up on the ground. Their mother broke it up and slapped Robinson. He felt disrespected.
He went upstairs, pulled out a .357-caliber Colt Python revolver and pointed it at his mother, Menas said. He threatened to shoot her. He said he was tired of being blamed for everything. He said he didn’t get any credit for anything. He threatened to hurt himself, police said, then he left.
Knott ordered a few officers to guard the house in case he returned.
Believing that the situation had calmed, the sergeant returned to his patrol car with Menas and headed back toward the station. It was an icy morning — the temperature hovered around 26 degrees — and Knott felt a detour was in order.
“Menas,” he said. “Let’s go get a hot chocolate.”
On their way, the officers saw a man walking up the street with an arm around a girl’s shoulder. They recognized Robinson from the description his family had provided. Menas could make out the outline of a gun in Robinson’s right jacket pocket. It was pointed toward the girl.
Knott pulled the car over.
“Hey Carl,” Knott said. “Do me a favor and take your hand out of your pocket. I want to talk to you for a minute.”
Robinson had never been arrested, and Menas said he knew from his family that he had once applied to the Police Department. He didn’t seem like a dangerous suspect, so Menas hadn’t drawn his gun.
Menas had disarmed “hundreds” of people without violence, he said: the man who charged down a flight of stairs with a knife, an armed thief he pinned to a restaurant wall and the man who stabbed himself repeatedly in a bathroom to get out of going to Vietnam.
“Come on, Carl,” Menas said. “Let’s talk about it.”
Robinson didn’t say a word. He pushed his girlfriend away. Knott saw his knuckle pull out of his pocket.
“He’s got a gun,” Knott said.
In an instant, Menas saw the gun pointed at his head, then a puff of smoke.
Menas owned a clamshell holster for his Smith & Wesson .38 special. The holster purposefully unclasped frontward instead of from behind, allowing for a quicker draw. As Menas grabbed for his revolver, he took a simultaneous crouching step left as the police academy had instructed.
Robinson’s bullet whizzed by. The recoil of the powerful gun kicked Robinson’s hand above his head — just enough time for Menas to fire three times.
A bullet pierced Robinson’s abdomen and sliced into his spleen. Another hit his neck and carotid artery. Knott shot Robinson in the arm, dislodging the gun.
“By the time I fired the third shot, I had the gun up to my eye,” Menas said, “but I could see him going down.”
Menas ran over to Robinson and stood between him and the gun he had dropped. He took off his police hat. “How’d he miss me,” he thought.
He couldn’t comprehend why Robinson had fired the gun, and he felt pity as the man gurgled blood on the ground.
“Why’d you do a stupid fool thing like that,” Menas muttered.
Knott called in the shooting, and a crowd of officers and paramedics arrived.
People on porches had witnessed the gun battle, and Menas asked to borrow a phone. He called his wife in case she heard about the shooting. He told her he wasn’t hurt.
Knott and Menas were both sent to speak to internal investigators. Menas, who had remained calm the whole time, remembers jumping when a firearms investigator took his gun and fired two rounds into a water barrel to compare the bullets to the ones at the shooting scene.
It didn’t take long for police and the state’s attorney’s office to deem the shooting justifiable, a ruling a police spokesman confirmed last week. The department even awarded Menas a Bronze Star for acting under fire.
“Whatever happened to Carl, I never found out,” Knott said.
All Menas knew was that Robinson was mostly unresponsive after the shooting and that prosecutors declined to press charges against him because his condition didn’t improve over several weeks.
“That’s what I was told,” Menas said. “Poor guy.”
It’s unclear how the rest of Robinson’s life played out. A family member found through public records directed questions to his sister, who declined to provide her full name. A teen when Robinson was shot, she said her brother was a talented artist and that his death was a “travesty.” She declined to say much more.
Robinson, 53, died Feb. 24, but it wasn’t until May 28 that the chief medical examiner’s office in Baltimore reviewed medical records and determined that though 32 years had passed, three bullets Knott and Menas fired in 1981 were to blame for Robinson’s death.
The coroner said Robinson suffered cardiopulmonary arrest — his heart stopping, along with acute renal failure, dysphagia or difficulty swallowing, and cerebral vascular accident, commonly known as a stroke.
“These are all consequences of being shot,” said Bruce Goldfarb, the medical examiner’s spokesman.
Baltimore police say homicides or deaths from trauma inflicted years before surface a handful of times annually. A few weeks ago, police classified a man’s December death as a homicide that stemmed from being shot in the back by an unknown person in 1997.
The cause of a paralyzed 62-year-old man’s death in 2010 was linked to police shooting him in 1975 after police said he charged a Baltimore officer with an ax. That shooting was ruled justifiable, like Robinson’s.
“All he had to do was take his hand out of his pocket,” Menas said. “I’m sorry that he’s gone, and I’m sorry he suffered all these years.”
For 18 more years, Menas worked as a police officer but never fired his gun at anyone again.
Knott never drew his gun again, either. He left the department three years after the shooting for more pay selling cars. But he always looked back at his time as a police officer with pride, and he doesn’t hesitate to talk about the shooting.
“I had to pull my gun once,” he said. “I’m not ashamed of it nor am I proud of it, but I had to shoot a man.”
The gravity of the situation was something he said he carried all his life. Several years ago, he ran into Menas and his family at a crabhouse. He told Menas’ daughter, “Your daddy saved my life.” Then he secretly paid for Menas’ bill before he left.
Knott said the shooting made him more grateful. It even changed his tastes.
“I never drank hot chocolate again,” he said. “I began drinking coffee after that.”
Over the next few weeks, Knott said, he plans to move from his home in Allegany County and follow his children somewhere “down South.”
It’s warmer on his bones, he said, and hot chocolate is rarely served or offered.
Anyone that has been in a shootout will remember it like it was yesterday, we remember why we shot, why those with us either did or didn’t shoot tool As police we are all trained, spend many hours on the range sending rounds down range. We go through tons of targets, shooting in all types of weather. In 1987 when I came on we shot our Gunpowder range, we shot in snow, rain, cold and or hot weather, we were told we would have to shoot in all types of weather while on the street, so we had to be trained for it. We even went out to night classes for night firing. So when we have to do it, and we survive, either by running away, taking cover or by getting our rounds off, we know what we are capable of, we know if someone pulls a gun on us or a citizen we can pull the trigger. In my case I once had a guy grab for my gun, we struggled for it and it went off, striking him in the leg, a through and through injury that took the fight out of him… Then a few years later while looking for an armed person near Odell’s my partner and I located him, he was with who we later learned was his mother and his brother, upon commands to freeze, his mother ran out away from her son and down the street, the suspect grabbed his brother as he turned away, reaching into his dip he pulled a 9, semi auto handgun continued his turning action while pulling his brother between himself and police, all the while raising his gun on my partner, fearing he was going to shoot my partner, I took aim, I was 30 feet off to the side and had a small window between he and his brother (a human shield) I squeezed off a single round that passed his brother and struck him in the side. This was all it took to end the threat on my partner. Shooting someone is something you could forget, in fact it might be something you may try to erase from your memory, but saving your partner(s) by shooting someone is something you can never forget, saving a life, is always good, saving the life of your brother or sister is something anyone can be proud of. Most people don’t understand when an officer is given a Bronze Star or Silver Star for being involved in a shooting, the award is not for shooting someone, or taking a life, it is for saving a life, either the life of a police officer, or the life of a civilian. God bless these officers for what they did on that day, they prevented the suspect from taking either of their lives. It is odd how Menas asked the suspect why he did that, and how he felt it was stupid, I did the same thing, I asked, “What did you do that for?” I didn’t get an answer, but I have heard others have asked the same question of their attacker.
Baltimore Police Struggle with Vacancies, Increased Spending
Agency Again Exceeds Overtime Budget as Officers Fill Shifts
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
6:40 PM EDT, June 18, 2013
The Baltimore Police Department is short almost one-sixth of the officers it should have as it girds for warmer weather and increased violence — prompting top brass to once again exceed their overtime budget to fill patrol cars.
“At the most problematic time for crime, we have a high vacancy rate,” Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts told the City Council at a budget hearing earlier this month about the city’s fiscal plan for the year that begins in July.
Batts blamed the staffing shortage on challenges retaining officers as he asked the City Council to approve his budget proposal, which includes $20 million for overtime — an amount the department has exceeded in the past two fiscal years. Without better pay to retain and lure officer candidates, the department spends millions to keep officers on the beat for extra hours.
More than one officer left the agency every day last month, and while police say they’re able to maintain patrol coverage through overtime spending, some worry about officers being stretched to a breaking point.
“It’s not only the overtime spending you have to worry about, but the officers are going to get tired,” said City Councilman Brandon Scott. “They’re tired now. We’re running them into the ground.”
Batts has increased foot patrols in high-crime areas, often pulling officers from other assignments and requiring leave time be canceled.
Each day last week, messages went out across the department saying that the Western District was short as many as eight officers a night, according to Robert F. Cherry, the police union president. That often requires supervisors to “draft” officers from the previous shift to work the next, meaning 16-hour shifts.
“It’s happening every day, across the city,” Cherry said. “Crime may be down, but it’s not down so significantly, like Chicago, that you can say the plan is working,” he said, referring to a surge in overtime there that has been credited with a decline in homicides of more than 30 percent this year.
Baltimore’s vacancies and overtime spending go hand in hand, officials say. Lt. Col. Paul Abell, the head of the management services division, said that 65 percent of overtime spending is connected to staff shortages.
The Eastern District is short about one-tenth of its allotted officers. On Monday night, two people were shot in the 2600 block of Grogan Ave. about 6 p.m. After police had processed the scene for evidence, another shooting rang out in the same block, killing 36-year-old Kwane Davis.
Police maintain that despite the district’s vacancies on paper, all patrol slots were properly staffed and an officer was around the corner at the time of the shooting.
“The reality is, these officers are out there busting their tails for the community in that district, and other districts as well,” said Col. Dean Palmere, the head of the investigations and intelligence division. “Whether we have to detail officers or pay them overtime, we’re going to fill those shifts one way or the other, and these officers are willing to step up.”
Police officials said they are able to make up for overtime payments by using money seized in criminal investigations, a rare use of those funds that are typically spent on training or equipment.
Overtime spending has been increasing in recent years. Under Mayor Martin O’Malley, the department regularly exceeded budgeted projections as commanders worked to control crime and make up for attrition.
Mayor Sheila Dixon pressured the department to rein in spending, resulting in sharp declines — from about $31 million in fiscal year 2007 to $16.7 million in 2010 — that still exceeded budgeted amounts.
Under Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, officials say, the overtime budget has increased to more accurately reflect the department’s spending expectations, though it continued to overspend. In fiscal 2012, Police Department overtime was budgeted at $17 million and the department spent $22.8 million.
For the fiscal year ending this month, police project that they will spend $23.5 million after budgeting for $20 million. The agency has the same $20 million overtime budget for the coming fiscal year.
In comparison, Chicago, a city with a police force four times the size of Baltimore’s, has a police overtime budget of $38 million and had not exceeded that amount through April despite a major push to flood hot-spot crime areas that helped drive down crime to levels not seen since the 1960s.
Baltimore’s homicide count is about the same as it was last year.
“It continues to be a challenge, but it’s directly related to the attrition issue,” said Ryan O’Doherty, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake, said of overtime spending. “I don’t think the mayor would hesitate in any way to spend overtime in order to make sure the police districts are adequately staffed at the levels the commissioner feels are appropriate.”
At the Police Department’s budget hearing, commanders said there were about 200 sworn vacancies and another 260 sworn staff positions empty due to suspensions, military or medical leave. Batts blamed the high vacancy rate on the department’s inability to offer salaries competitive with those of surrounding jurisdictions.
The department’s starting salary is on par with other jurisdictions, according to a survey by the Maryland Association of Counties — about $59,000 per year, compared with $60,000 in Baltimore County, $55,000 in Anne Arundel County, and $65,000 in Howard County.
But once promoted to sergeant, a Baltimore County officer makes $101,000. A city sergeant makes $76,000, the survey shows.
That issue is not new, though top officials say other agencies have stepped up their efforts to recruit the city’s officers, particularly younger ones whom Baltimore police paid to train.
“You’re leading a group of people looking for somewhere else to go, and there’s plenty of places,” Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke told Batts.
Baltimore’s police department is one of the largest per capita in the country, with about 3,100 sworn officer positions, though Batts, who took over the agency last year after a career spent on the West Coast, said it has an unusually high number of officers on the sideline due to injuries, suspensions or military leave.
The city hired a team of outside consultants, which is in Baltimore this week to evaluate the department and determine whether it is understaffed or whether it could actually reduce the force through efficiencies.
Batts and his new deputy commissioner, Jerry Rodriguez, also a California transplant, are also trying to find ways to streamline the disciplinary process so officers are not suspended for years at a time.
Meanwhile, police have been looking for ways to handle the heavy load of 911 calls without using officers. Earlier this year, Baltimore introduced an online reporting system for minor crimes — a service they say has gotten modest use — and the department plans to create a unit to take reports over the phone for issues that don’t require an officer to respond.
At the Police Department’s budget hearing at City Hall, council members spent considerable time discussing the department’s lack of competitive pay. But the cash-strapped city has yet to put aside resources to significantly raise officer salaries.
The Fraternal Order of Police contends that the city could operate with fewer officers and better pay, in part because fewer officers would leave and a higher-quality force would face fewer disciplinary issues.
Batts, for his part, signaled that compensation is something he is studying.
“We have been and are a training ground for other departments,” Batts said. “It’s critically important for us to keep and retain, to get the best and the brightest. We have to look at pay. … In order for us to become one of the best, we have to invest in that.”
Baltimore police staffing
Sworn officers: 3,100
Vacancies on the force: 200
Positions empty because of suspensions or leave: 260
Overtime budget for fiscal 2013: $20 million
Estimated total overtime spending for the year: $23.5 million
Source: Baltimore Police
Numbers are approximate.
In 2010 when the Mayor came up with her 25 and out plan taking 5 years onto officers careers that had less the 15 years on, I told several Council members it will convert Baltimore into a Farm Team for Police, on top of them only stopping off in Baltimore for training, they will also do little, so as not to gain IID numbers or injuries that might prevent them from having a future in the surrounding counties, at the time one said, perhaps that could be a good thing, as it would lighten up the choke hold on the pension. I don’t think things were thought through. The department for eyes has been paid well under the counties around us, and most only stayed for one of two reasons, the first being 20 and out, the second being excitement. But when you are overworked and underpaid, then have contracts broken, you lose good men and women to the counties that are keeping their word with their police, counties that seem to respect their police, this mayor seems as if she has a grudge or hatred toward police. It is a shame, because when the public sees that kind of disrespect for their police they too become disrespectful. There needs to be changes, the police need to have the respect they once had in order for them to act as respectful as they once did. We have a ton of great police on our force, guys and gals that will lay down their lives to keep an oath they made to protect the community, and more important to provide a back-up to their brother officer(s)
Baltimore Dirt Bikes Seized in Police Raid of Repair Shop
16 bikes seized; riders say crackdown is unfair
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
6:50 PM EDT, April 19, 2013
Detective Hassan Rasheed had been watching the Northwest Baltimore repair shop for weeks as men brought dirt bikes in and out for repairs. Now police, intent on cracking down on illegal bikes, were prepared to move in.
Armed with a search-and-seizure warrant, Rasheed and a team of officers gathered up 16 bikes. Some had been reported stolen.
As the officers combed the West Belvedere Avenue repair shop, a crowd gathered outside the barbed-wire-topped fence.
“I’m sure everyone’s [angry],” Rasheed said of the onlookers. “But these are the nuisance complaints that we get.”
Police announced a new campaign this week to go after illegal dirt bikes, including offering an email address for anonymous tips about people riding or storing the vehicles.
Maj. Johnny Delgado, the commander of the Northwestern District, called the bikes and their riders a menace.
But authorities aren’t relying solely on tips. Rasheed pursued his investigation for weeks. Last weekend, police narrowed Reisterstown Road near Druid Hill Park from three lanes down to one and kept tow trucks standing by to intimidate bikers from their Sunday ritual of riding in the park.
With dirt bike riding emerging as a full-fledged subculture — enthusiasts post slick videos of riding tricks on YouTube, and a documentary film about Baltimore bikers premiered at the South-by-Southwest festival in Texas — the enforcement effort has drawn mixed reactions.
At neighborhood meetings, dirt bikes are a top complaint from citizens, who call them noisy, dangerous and threatening.
Among the critics is Reuben “Peas” Maxwell, 48, who owns the property leased by the repair shop and operates his own shop next door.
He said the bikers tear up the property.
“The police don’t do nothing about it,” he said.
But ask the bikers and their supporters, and they say riding is a harmless outlet for young people.
Police assert that there is a relationship between dirt bike riding and more serious crimes, from drug dealing to shootings.
Riders say that’s unfair.
Take Saeed Jacob. He says he’s a 23-year-old who works in real estate investments in Brooklyn, N.Y. When he got word that police were seizing bikes, he rushed to the garage. He told the officers that he had all the necessary paperwork for his bike and offered to have it faxed over.
Jacob said he comes down to the city on the weekends to ride, which gives him an adrenaline rush.
“There’s so many other things going on,” he said. “This is trivial in comparison to what’s really happening.”
Standing with him was Jelani Aleong, 22, who also told the officers he had a title and registration for his $2,500 bike, but to no avail — he was told it was missing a vehicle identification number on the engine and would be taken.
“I’m a trail rider,” Aleong said. “They’ve never caught me on no street riding.”
The repair shop is around the corner from the Northwestern District station, in an area surrounded by other similar businesses. As the officers approached the building, men pushing shopping carts full of hubcaps slowed to view the commotion.
“They’re taking the bikes?” one of them asked. “He just fixes them.”
Rasheed, accompanied by patrol officers and members of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, tried to gain access to the garage using bolt cutters.
Then more officers were called in with a gas-powered saw, which also didn’t work. They finally got in — after the owner of the repair shop arrived and opened the locks.
The owner declined to be interviewed.
Inside, police found not just the bikes but several pit bulls.
“Don’t be afraid of the dog,” Detective Chris Grant, a member of the task force who had been to the shop previously, had told the officers before entering. “The dog’s nice.”
Animal control took the dogs and said they’ll be put up for adoption after 72 hours.
On his Twitter page, Jacob posted a picture of police loading his bike onto a tow truck.
“Police think this gon stop us from riding,” he wrote. “We just gon flood the streets.”
Baltimore Police spot error in counting city rape statistics
Oversight panel worked with police to correct undercounting, officials say
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
9:30 PM EDT, April 18, 2013
Baltimore police have been underreporting the number of rapes across the city this year, but officials described the problem as a data error and stressed that it did not affect the number of cases being investigated by sex offense detectives.
The mistake resulted in 16 rape cases being mis-categorized in the agency’s records management system, which reduced the number reported through the Comstat program. The program produces publicly available data that commanders use to track crime trends. Police said they had flagged the problem and were working to correct it.
“I’m extremely confident in the process we have to serve victims of sexual assault and rape,” said Capt. Martin Bartness, the commander overseeing the sex offense unit. “We are doing right by our victims.”
The incorrect data showed 45 rapes reported this year through April 13, compared with 81 at the same time last year — a decline of 44 percent, the largest drop of any category of crime.
Heather Brantner, the coordinator of the city’s Sexual Assault Response Team, said the problem appeared largely superficial. Her group includes victim advocates and was formed in 2010 after The Baltimore Sun reported that police were discarding rape reports at the highest rate in the nation.
Members of the team began to notice the drop in recent weeks and had been discussing possible reasons for the decline.
Brantner said police took a closer look at the data, and determined that the unit’s database of rape investigations showed a higher number. The number of rapes being investigated by the unit instead showed a decline of 25 percent over the same time last year, police said.
That’s still a notable decline, and Bartness said members of the sexual assault response team are tracking the issue. The sex offense unit’s statistics are scrutinized regularly, and Brantner has access to the internal police databases to look over the shoulder of detectives.
She said the group also discusses the data with advocacy groups, medical providers and counseling centers to make sure they match the experience on the ground.
“We’re really dialed in,” Bartness said. “At the end of the day, I’m extremely confident in the process we have to serve victims of sexual assault and rape.”
Deputy Commissioner John P. Skinner said the agency reviewed other categories of crime and have not seen the same problem. He stressed that the records management data are constantly reviewed and not official until they are reported to the FBI, which collects the data nationally.
When an officer in the field writes a police report, it is hand-delivered to the agency’s records management section. Skinner said the reports are reviewed by a specialist to make sure the category of crime matches what’s described in the report. The report is then scanned in and entered into a computer system, he said.
Detectives separately enter cases into a database that allows them to enter summaries and progress notes. That database is where the sex offense unit said it keeps its official accounting of cases.
Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts has said he wants to upgrade both systems.
Skinner said the undercounting in the records management system appeared to be the result of clerical errors — for example, he said, a crime that was supposed to be classified as a “3J” being entered as a “3G” — and was not “downgrading” of the incidents, because sex offense detectives were still investigating them as serious crimes.
Skinner said the sex offense unit will submit its statistics directly to the Comstat program until the problem is resolved. He said police take the same approach with “shootings,” a category that appears on Comstat reports but is not one that the agency has to report to the FBI. Shootings are broadly counted among aggravated assaults, but police count them separately on internal records so they know where they stand.
In 2010, The Sun reported that sex offense detectives were consistently discarding a high percentage of reports as “unfounded,” meaning no crime occurred. Officials acknowledged a widespread problem, and made a number of reforms, including the formation of the sexual assault response team and launching a public awareness campaign.
While 31 percent of cases were deemed “unfounded” in 2009, just 1.7 percent were classified that way last year, Brantner said.
Police Kill Man in Running Gun Battle in Canton
Two women also shot in incident, possibly by man who died
By Jessica Anderson and Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun
10:10 PM EDT, April 19, 2013
A running gun battle that broke out late Thursday night between Baltimore police and a suspect after a domestic incident in Canton left one man dead, two women shot and a quiet Southwest Baltimore street rattled.
Police worked Friday to unravel the circumstances surrounding the overnight incident. It was the year’s eighth officer-involved shooting and the second in which a suspect died.
Officers responded to call about a disturbance at a house in the 3400 block of Foster Ave. just before midnight. Moments later, other officers heard gunfire in the area and began to chase the man they believed responsible.
A 42-year-old Baltimore resident, who was not immediately identified, was killed in the exchange of gunfire, said Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman. Two women who had been engaged in the dispute with the man also were shot: a 28-year-old in the ear and a 22-year-old in the arm, Guglielmi said.
While police are “operating under the belief” that the women were shot by the man before his encounter with officers, detectives are “combing through ballistics” and reconstructing the scene to make sure they weren’t hit by officers’ bullets, Guglielmi said.
No police officers or other civilians were injured, he said.
Neighbors said they were terrified as the incident unfolded.
“It was really scary,” said Elizabeth Lina, who lives a few doors down from where the shooting occurred. “We don’t unusually have that kind of problem here.”
She recalled hearing a shot, “a lady hollering,” and then many more shots. Fearing stray bullets, she ran into the middle room of the home she’s lived in for 50 years.
Uniformed police officers initially responded to the Canton home about 11:45 p.m. Thursday for a call about a disorderly man, Guglielmi said. They handled the disturbance between the man and two women, one of them his wife.
Minutes later, officers heard gunshots in the same area. Outside the home, the man confronted the officers with a gun, Guglielmi said.
“They [got] into a running gun battle in the neighborhood, multiple shots were fired and officers struck the suspect,” Guglielmi said. The gunfight took place in an area outside a few houses on the block, he said.
Three officers fired their weapons, Guglielmi said. He said it was unclear how many shots they fired.
Police believe the women were shot by the man before his exchange of fire with the officers but “are also exploring whether they were shot in relation to the suspect’s confrontation with police,” Guglielmi said
Lina said she does not know the neighbors at the house where the incident occurred, but she hadn’t noticed any disturbances there until Thursday night.
Norma Hrica, who lives on Highland Avenue, was sipping coffee and doing a crossword puzzle in her kitchen when she heard arguing though her open back door. She said she head a man say, “How could you do that to me?'”
“Not long after that I heard what I thought was fireworks. I looked up the street and saw a guy holding a gun,” Hrica said.
She ran from her front door and hid at the top of her basement stairs. After waiting a bit and not hearing more gunfire, she came out and saw a man lying on the sidewalk.
“When I opened the door, he was already down,” Hrica said. She pointed to a bloodstain on the sidewalk where she said his head had been.
Lina said she went outside after the gunfire and saw numerous police cars on her block. She and other neighbors said they saw men in handcuffs. Guglielmi said he could not provide information about whether there had been arrests.
The incident started in a rowhouse across from Archbishop Borders School on Foster Avenue. A few drops of blood remained on the sidewalk alongside a few pieces of gauze Friday morning. Around the corner on Highland Avenue, a remnant of yellow police tape was left behind, but few other signs of the shooting were visible.
The officers involved in the incident have not been identified. They have been placed on routine administrative duty pending the results of an internal investigation.
The eight police-involved shootings this year have wounded nine people, two of whom died. Last year there were 15 police-involved shootings the wounded 15, nine of whom died.
Thursday’s incident occurred during a violent night in Baltimore in which at least two other men were killed and several people were wounded by gunfire.
In the second overnight killing, police responded to the 2700 block of Jefferson St. in McElderry Park and found an unidentified man with gunshot wounds facedown in the street, Guglielmi said. He was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Hospital about 1:25 a.m. Friday.
Three hours later, officers found Jerrel Key, 29, lying on the sidewalk at McCulloh and Presstman streets in the Druid Heights neighborhood. Key, who had suffered several gunshot wounds, was pronounced dead at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Police were investigating two other shootings Thursday night — a man in the 400 block of N. Robinson St. in the Ellwood Park/Monument neighborhood and a woman at West Patapsco and Janice avenues in the Lakeland neighborhood. Both were expected to survive.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.
Baltimore officer indicted in police academy training shooting – William Scott Kern faces second-degree assault, reckless endangerment charges
6:44 PM EDT, March 27, 2013
The Baltimore police training supervisor who shot a recruit during an unauthorized training exercise last month will face criminal charges after being indicted Wednesday by a Baltimore County grand jury. William Scott Kern, 46, faces counts of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, both misdemeanors. The indictment comes six weeks after the shooting during an exercise at the shuttered Rosewood Center in Owings Mills. Kern, a Carroll County resident who had worked at the city training academy for more than a decade, turned himself in at the state police Golden Ring barracks. He was released on his own recognizance. Kern’s attorney, Shaun Owens, said the shooting was a “tragedy,” and his client never meant to hurt anyone. The victim, Raymond Gray, is a University of Maryland police recruit who was training with city officers. “This does not require pointing the finger at someone,” Owens said. “It does not require blame. We will look forward to our day in court.” Wednesday’s indictment offered no details of the investigation, which was conducted by the state police. Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger declined to comment. Sources have said that Gray had peered through a window and Kern, an 18-year veteran, fired at him with what he thought was a gun that expelled paintball-like pellets. Instead, he had grabbed his service weapon. Gray may not have been participating in a drill at the time, the sources said, and was critically wounded after taking a bullet to the front of the head. Gray’s attorney, A. Dwight Pettit, said the recruit and his family were pleased that charges had been filed. Discharged from University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center last month, Gray remained hospitalized and unable to communicate. But Pettit said he has made tremendous progress since then: Gray can not only talk but is walking, and Pettit expects he will be able to eat without the aid of a feeding tube soon. He is also expected to undergo eye surgery. Pettit said Gray cannot remember anything about the shooting. “The positive thing [about the indictment] is this will allow us to get some information now about as to what actually took place to cause this tragic event,” Pettit said. Kern is charged with second-degree assault, which carries a prison term of up to 10 years. The maximum sentence for reckless endangerment is five years. Owens, Kern’s attorney, said prosecutors would have to prove intent to prosecute the assault charge. He said there was no intent because the shooting was an accident. Kern’s “main concern is for the health and well-being of Raymond Gray,” Owens added. Officers’ service weapons and live ammunition are prohibited in a training environment, according to city police, and it remains unclear how and why the officer had the real gun. Police use “simunition” weapons in training exercises, which have a similar feel to a service weapon but fire ammunition that is similar to a paintball. Firing a shot in someone’s direction outside of an exercise, even from a “simunition” weapon, is prohibited by the policies governing training. In the fallout from the shooting, state officials disclosed that Baltimore police were not authorized to use the Rosewood Center for training. City police said that top commanders weren’t aware of the exercise. A part-time member of Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts’ security detail was among the officers present at the Rosewood site at the time of the shooting. The department replaced the training academy commander, only to have his successor decide to retire days later. Judy Pal, Batts’ chief of staff, said Wednesday that the former commander, Maj. Eric Russell, and other officers remain suspended but have not been charged internally. Some firearms training has resumed, and police said they are continuing to review the shooting and the training academy’s standards. In a statement, Batts said the indictment “moves us one step forward in this painful but necessary process” as the department reckons with the incident. “When we fall short, we will not only hold ourselves accountable; but will take the necessary time, care and caution required to restore the public’s confidence in our department,” Batts said.
Mistrial in case of city officer accused of recording judge – Some observers point to larger problems with judges signing warrants after hours
By Carrie Wells, The Baltimore Sun
7:51 PM EDT, March 26, 2013
A jury declared Tuesday that it was hopelessly deadlocked over the case of a Baltimore police officer accused of secretly tape-recording a judge. The impasse triggered a mistrial that leaves the sergeant’s fate uncertain. Sgt. Carlos M. Vila, an 18-year-veteran police officer, was charged with recording a telephone argument with a judge designated to sign search warrants after normal business hours. Prosecutors said the recording violated the state’s wiretap laws. Vila wanted District Judge Joan B. Gordon to sign a warrant on a Saturday night to search a car in which a shooting victim had been found. Gordon thought the matter was not urgent and could wait until business hours on Monday, according to the recording, which was played in court this week. Catherine Flynn, Vila’s attorney, said the sergeant has been suspended without pay from his job since he was charged last year. “The jurors definitely were methodical in reviewing the evidence, we appreciate that,” she said. “But certainly, given his status of being suspended without pay, we were hoping for a resolution.” Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office, said prosecutors would meet on Wednesday to determine their next step. Vila’s defense was that he attempted to only record his side of the conversation to protect himself later, and recorded the judge by mistake. He also is accused of replaying the recording to colleagues a month later, but Vila maintains that was accidental and that he did not believe he did anything wrong. Judges are required to be on call after normal business hours to sign off on search warrants about one week out of the year, a job for which they take turns. In this case, the judge wanted to speak with Vila’s supervisor before signing off on the warrant. Vila told her that his lieutenant was off that day and not on call.
‘I’ve lost everything,’ city officer testifies in wiretap case – Sgt. Carlos M. Vila is accused of illegally taping a city judge and playing recording to colleagues
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun
8:43 PM EDT, March 22, 2013
Accused of taping a judge without her consent, a Baltimore police officer broke down on the witness stand Friday as he testified that one phone call left his 18-year career hanging in the balance. “I’ve lost everything because of this,” said Sgt. Carlos M. Vila. Prosecutors allege that Vila’s recording of a phone conversation during which he argued with the judge was a violation of Maryland’s wiretap laws. Vila is also charged with playing the recording — which he says was accidental — for colleagues on two occasions. The case arose from a dispute on a Saturday night between Vila and District Judge Joan B. Gordon over the urgency of a shooting investigation. Police wanted to search a car where the victim had been found, but the judge thought it could wait until Monday. Police and judges commonly discuss warrants outside of regular working hours. In court Friday, Gordon testified that she is required to be on call one week every year so she can review warrant applications when courthouses are closed. But that Saturday, the judge and investigators could not agree on the urgency of the shooting investigation. According to testimony Friday, they soon got into an argument over the phone. “The tenor was a very hostile one,” Gordon said in court. Worried that the incident could lead to a complaint against him, Vila said he only intended to record his side of the conversation. The sergeant testified that he only made the recording of the judge’s voice because he accidentally turned on the speaker of his cellphone. His lawyer, Catherine Flynn, argued that because it was an accident, he did not do anything illegal. “It was my intention to capture myself, and only myself,” Vila said in court. But Assistant State’s Attorney Paul Pineau asked Vila whether he had ever used a speakerphone before and whether he noticed the volume of the phone changing. Vila said he replayed the conversation once for Detective James Clark immediately after he recorded it, and again for another colleague who was facing a complaint about discourtesy. He said he did not think he had done anything wrong by making the recording and thought it would be OK to play it. Vila and Clark had worked through Friday night and into Saturday evening investigating the shooting, and Clark prepared a search warrant. Clark was the first to get in touch with Gordon, asking her to sign off on the search. Gordon raised questions about the application that night and asked to speak to Vila, Clark’s supervisor. In the recording, which was played in court, Vila can be heard reminding the judge of her responsibilities. “It’s your duty, your honor. You’re on call,” he said. Gordon can then be heard saying she wanted to talk to Vila’s supervisor and gather more information. “I explained to you why it was necessary for us to be inside this vehicle,” Vila said. He added that he did not want to bother his lieutenant, who was not at work: “You’re on call. He’s not on call.” It is not clear what concerns Gordon had about the warrant application. Judge Lawrence Daniels, who is presiding over Vila’s case, has barred any discussion of the underlying investigation. In arguments that took place while jurors were out of court, Daniels said he feared they might go easy on Vila if they knew the case concerned a shooting. Gordon testified that she was trying to determine whether the warrant was an emergency that would justify a detective coming to her house on a Saturday evening. Flynn, Vila’s lawyer, questioned her in response: “You’re aware that crime occurs 24 hours a day. Is that correct?” Gordon said she was. She said she signed another warrant for Clark in the early hours of that Sunday morning.
Cases handled by officer convicted of drug charges in jeopardy – Kendell Richburg pleaded guilty to falsifying reports, skimming money
By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun
8:41 PM EDT, March 24, 2013
When Brenda Brown stood before a judge, she figured she had only one real option: plead guilty. She had been caught with three bags of marijuana in her pocket in Northwest Baltimore. She didn’t know that Kendell Richburg, the arresting officer, had lied about having seen her buy the drugs, potentially violating her constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure. Now, her case is among hundreds under review by prosecutors in light of Richburg’s conduct. Brown, 52, is serving a sentence that includes a year of probation, court costs, counseling, drug testing and another possession count on a lengthy rap sheet. But she wonders whether the new revelations mean her conviction might be scrapped. “You mean I’m off probation?” she asked after hearing of Richburg’s guilty plea this month to armed drug trafficking charges. Federal prosecutors said the Baltimore police officer set up innocent people, falsified reports, skimmed police money, and protected a drug dealer working for him as an informant. Brown’s case — and others like it — are part of a complicated puzzle prosecutors will have to solve in coming weeks. “This could be a very big undertaking the state’s attorney’s office will have to embark on,” said Glenn F. Ivey, a private attorney who served as Prince George’s County state’s attorney for eight years. He said one police officer’s misconduct can ruin many cases. The Richburg affair has endangered cases against people caught engaging in criminal activity. And it illustrates how seemingly incidental, but fabricated, information can slip through the court system, limiting suspects’ due process. “Whether the person is guilty or not, the police have to put truthful information in the report about him or her,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said. “You don’t make cases by lying.” Brown was arrested Sept. 18. That night, she said in an interview, a young man on a bike rode up to her at a bus stop in the 5100 block of Park Heights Ave. “Hey mama, I got some weed but you got to look out,” Brown said he told her. “Some knockers down there.” He pointed toward an area being monitored by plainclothes officers from Baltimore’s Violent Crime Impact Section. Brown discreetly handed the man $15 for three “nickel” bags — enough to roll a joint, she said — and boarded a bus. Several minutes later, she said, a police car pulled in front of the bus. Richburg stepped onboard and pulled Brown off. “What you got?” she said he asked. “I know you have something.” He reached into her pocket, pulled out the baggies. She never questioned how he knew she was holding marijuana. In the statement of probable cause for the arrest, Richburg wrote that he witnessed the buy. He said an “unidentified black male” in a white T-shirt and blue jeans approach Brown at the bus stop. Money changed hands, he said. “This detective believed that he had just witnessed a narcotic transaction,” he wrote. He and his partner walked up and made the arrest. There was no mention in the report of Richburg stopping the bus. That wasn’t the only omission. According to federal prosecutors, the entire arrest was set up. Earlier in the day, federal investigators, who by this time were monitoring Richburg, had been wiretapping his conversations with a confidential informant. According to Richburg’s lawyer, Warren A. Brown, the officer had been under immense pressure to make cases, which led him to arrange busts with the informant. That day, the two discussed the potential drug arrest. “I’ll write it up like I saw hand to hand,” bits of the conversation made public by federal prosecutors show. It was unclear whether the man on the bike was the informant. But after the drug deal was brokered, the informant gave Brenda Brown’s description and location to Richburg, who texted back several minutes later: “I got her.” Richburg’s attorney said the officer felt he had to resort to such tactics to keep his job. “This unit, which was ostensibly meant to combat violent crime, was under extreme pressure to make arrests,” Warren Brown said. “It was a numbers game and the higher ups didn’t care what kind of arrests they were — they just wanted numbers.” Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi called any claim of top-down pressure to make arrests “absurd” and denigrating to honest police officers. “It was clear he was operating alone.” Richburg was involved in hundreds of cases since April 2009, when he forged the relationship with the informant that would play a key role in his downfall. The street-level dealer, who has not been identified, was facing arrest when he agreed to help police. He worked the streets for tips in the same area he had been caught dealing drugs and was assigned to Richburg, who was part of Baltimore police’s Northwestern District’s special enforcement section. The relationship developed into a quid pro quo, authorities say: Richburg tipped off the informant about areas police were monitoring so he could avoid them when he sold cocaine, crack, heroin and marijuana. The informant told the officer who his customers were so Richburg could arrest them. Richburg never revealed that the informant was the dealer in many of his arrests. He even fueled the informant’s illegal enterprises, prosecutors said, paying him for tips with police money — which Richburg skimmed — and resupplying him with drugs police had confiscated. The state’s attorney’s Police Integrity Unit began reviewing Richburg’s cases weeks ago after they learned of the allegations against him. Officials have been consulting with every prosecutor who worked on a Richburg case to determine whether convictions or plea agreements need to be thrown out, spokesman Mark Cheshire said. Prosecutors are obligated to notify people who could be potentially freed or exonerated if they uncover evidence that might be favorable to them. The office of the public defender is conducting its own review. “We’re looking into all of these cases, and we’ll be pursuing it quite aggressively,” District Public Defender Elizabeth L. Julian said. In the case of Brenda Brown, Byron L. Warnken, a University of Baltimore law professor and attorney who specializes in appellate cases, said that if it turns out Richburg had no probable cause to search her, it won’t matter whether she had marijuana. “If the only thing that establishes that she did the crime was his statement and he lied, sounds like she didn’t do the crime,” he said. Brown, who is unemployed and on disability, said she grew up in West Baltimore and got caught up in doing and dealing hard drugs at a young age. Since 1984, she has been arrested 16 times, according to records read at her Sept. 27 court hearing. Court records show several convictions over the years, including multiple charges of possession of a controlled substance and theft. She said she has been “clean from the coke and the dope” for 13 years, since serving a seven-year sentence that ended in 2004. But she acknowledged continuing to smoke marijuana to help combat pain from surgeries and arthritis, and fatigue from HIV, which she has been fighting for 15 years. “I do it for me to get an appetite.” For months, Brown thought it was just bad luck she had been prosecuted for buying marijuana last September. Usually, officers in special enforcement units focus on drug dealers, not users, she said. “Most of the knockers, when they find [drugs] they just smash it and tell you to go on your way,” she said. Before she bought the marijuana, she had been out buying a pair of glasses. She joked that the glasses “must not have been that good” since she didn’t notice police around witnessing her buy drugs. Now, she said, she knows they never saw anything at all.
City pension system facing $681 million shortfall – System for elected officials’ retirements is fully funded
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun
The pension system for most city workers has nearly $700 million in unfunded liabilities, according to an audit released Wednesday. In contrast, the smaller system for elected officials — who contribute to their pensions — is in strong financial shape, another audit shows. City auditor Robert L. McCarty presented the documents to the city’s spending panel, the Board of Estimates, along with annual financial reports that provided details about the fiscal health of the two systems. The police and fire pension system is separate and was not covered by the reports. The pension system for municipal employees, who do not currently contribute to their retirements, faces $681 million in unfunded liabilities, the audit says. It underscores the change in the system’s funding over the last decade. Fully funded in 2003, the system has weakened each year and is now only 67 percent funded. An actuary, Cheiron Inc., recommended the city increase its contribution by 7.5 percent to shore up the system — from $88 million for fiscal year 2013 to $95 million next fiscal year. By contrast, the pension system for elected officials — who contribute 5 percent of their salaries — is funded to cover 109 percent of liabilities and has an excess of $1.5 million in assets, the reports show. City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who chairs the Board of Estimates, said officials are aware of the need to take action. At the same time, he said, he’s concerned about promises made to city workers. “People come to work. They’re promised a pension. They’re promised certain things,” Young said. “We’re going to look at it and see what tweaks we can make.” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has consistently pointed to pension payments as a major driver of the city’s long-term financial woes. She has proposed requiring more city employees to contribute some of their salaries to their pensions, while moving to a 401(k)-style retirement plan for new civilian hires. Under the administration’s proposal, the city would start requiring civilian employees to contribute 5 percent of their salaries to their pensions. The city would phase in the contribution increases, starting at 1 percent in the coming fiscal year. New employees would be given 401(k)-style plans instead of traditional pensions. The changes to city pensions would save $5 million in the coming fiscal year, city officials said. According to the city’s budget, taxpayers will contribute $192 million to public employees’ pensions next fiscal year. Andrew Kleine, the city’s budget director, has called the growth of pension costs “relentless.” Young said it makes sense for employees to contribute to their pensions, but he’s worried about low-level employees with meager wages. “Police and fire make a contribution. We make a contribution,” he said, referring to elected officials. “As you know, most of the city workers are on the lower end of the payroll scale. People are hurting.” The pensions for municipal employees are in similar straits as those for police and fire department employees, who will contribute 10 percent of their salaries to their retirements this year. In 2003, 96 percent of the public safety pensions were funded, with $81 million in unfunded liabilities on the books. Now, however, the public safety pension system has $712 million in unfunded liabilities, and the percentage of fully funded pensions has dropped to 77 percent. In 2010, Rawlings-Blake moved to overhaul the pension system for police and fire employees, delaying retirement for many and increasing their contributions to the pension system. A federal judge struck down one aspect of that overhaul last year but said the rest of the law could stand. The mayor has also proposed a new “hybrid” retirement system for new employees of the police and fire departments. Meanwhile, City Councilman William H. Cole IV has suggested switching the pension system for elected officials to a 401(k)-style system.
City pension systems
Municipal employees: 67 percent funded, $681 million in unfunded liabilities.
Public safety employees: 77 percent funded, $712 million in unfunded liabilities.
Elected officials: 109 percent funded, $1.5 million in excess assets.
Source: City of Baltimore reports
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun
October 6, 2011
Baltimore police hand out department honors
Baltimore Police had their annual Medal Day ceremony last week, and police this week provided the list of those who were honored. Here they are, in the order they appear in the program:
Others receiving awards included:
Officer Todd Strohman – Medal of Honor
Lt. Scott Mezan – Silver Star, Life Saving Award
Officer Jeffrey Schmitt – Silver Star
Officer Kurt Yourkovik – Life Saving Award
Officer Keith Romans – Medal of Honor, Citation of Valor
Officer Jordan Moore – Silver Star, Citation of Valor
Officer Joseph Wiczulis – Silver Star
Detective Latosha Tinsley – Medal of Honor
Detective Daniel Hersl – Medal of Honor
Detective Michael Rice – Citation of Valor
Deputy Major David Reitz, Sgt. Thomas Schaeffer, Sgt. Mark Ference – Silver Star
Officer Mikel Valerio – Silver Star
Officers Brett Schrack, Chantell Washington, Paul Sinchak, Edward LeMarie – Silver Star
Det. Sgt. William Knorlein, Det. Wayne Jenkins, Det. Craig Jester, Det. Ivo Louvado, Det. Victor Rivera, Det. Keith Gladstone, Det. Paul Geare – Bronze Star
Officers James Howard, Ruganzu Howard, Paul Heffernan – Bronze Star
Officer Daniel Harper – Medal of Valor
Dep. Maj. Dorsey McVicker, Sgt. Kurt Roepcke, Officer Matthew McClenahan – Citation of Valor
Officers Maxwell Anderson, Jonathan Ford, Donald Medtart – Bronze Star
Lt. Gordon Schluderberg – Bronze Star
Sgt. Jeffrey Young, Det. Michael Brinn – Bronze Star
Officer Thomas Robert – Bronze Star
Officer John Potter – Bronze Star
Officer Richard Lyles – Bronze Star
Father & Son
Two of Baltimore’s Top Police
Over 25 years ago the Baltimore Sun did a Fathers Day article featuring Father and Son; Col. Leon Tomlin and Det. Mark Tomlin. A retired officer named Mark Frank bought the picture from the Sun Paper’s archives and gave it to Mark. A very… very special thing that someone from the BPD Brotherhood would think of a brother, and spend his hard earned cash to buy him a 25 year old Sun Paper photo. Thanks to both P/O Mark Frank and Det. Mark Tomlin for making this photo part of the Baltimore City Police History website.
University of Maryland Campus Police Officer Shot in Training Exercise
BALTIMORE — A University of Maryland campus police officer was critically wounded Tuesday after being shot in the head by an instructor during a training exercise with Baltimore police, an incident that prompted the city’s police commissioner to suspend all training pending a safety evaluation. The officer was hit about 2:30 p.m. at the Rosewood Center, a closed state psychiatric hospital in Owings Mills, in Baltimore County. State police said it was reported as an accident, but officials released few details — including why live rounds were being used in a training environment — citing an ongoing investigation. Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts spent hours at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center with the officer and told reporters at a news conference after 9 p.m. that “I probably have more questions than you have.” “It’s going to take time to get answers to those questions because, for me, it’s unacceptable,” Batts said. “We’re going to take the time to dig to make this better so we don’t have this happen again.” Batts said he had suspended all police academy operations and training programs pending a safety review. He said he would have his agency’s internal affairs unit as well as the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission conduct reviews in addition to the state police probe. The officer was not identified at the request of his family, but Chief Antonio Williams of the University of Maryland, Baltimore police force said he was in his 40s and had been hired in July. It was his first police job, Williams said. Officers from smaller agencies commonly take part in training with larger police forces to conserve resources. Thomas Scalea, the physician in chief at Shock Trauma, said the officer was in stable condition at 9 p.m. “But any thoughts or predictions about . . . neurological outcomes are way, way premature,” he said. A second officer, a member of the city force, suffered minor injuries from broken glass related to the shooting, said Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. City Council member Brandon M. Scott (D), vice chairman of the public safety committee, said he would call on police officials to explain the incident. Scott said he was dismayed to see another officer wounded in the wake of the deadly friendly-fire shooting of Officer William H. Torbit Jr. outside the Select Lounge nightclub in 2011. “It’s an unspeakable tragedy, but there are a lot of questions that need to answered,” he said of Tuesday’s shooting. “I will do everything in my power that we find out what happened and that something like this never happens again.” State police are leading the investigation because it took place in a state facility, owned by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Robert F. Cherry, the police union president, was at the hospital but referred questions to a union attorney, Michael Davey, who said the shooting was a “tragedy for the department and everyone involved. The police department will do a very thorough investigation.” They declined to identify the training instructor, who police said is suspended pending the review of the incident. Retired Lt. Col. Michael Andrew, who oversaw the city’s SWAT teams, said live ammunition is rarely used in any training scenario. Most guns used in training are distinguished by red handles and have no magazines or firing pins. In classroom settings, he said, “They won’t even let you in the building with a loaded weapon.” Andrew said his SWAT teams trained weekly in a former city maintenance shop. “They weren’t using live ammunition,” he said. “They would painstakingly make sure everything was unloaded and simulate live ammunition.” Police would not offer any details about Tuesday’s training exercise, saying that information was part of their investigation. In recent years, police have described using “active shooter” training exercises in which officers use so-called “simunition” bullets similar to paintballs. Simunitions are fired from a standard handgun and explode on impact. They allow officers to practice in realistic situations, often in abandoned buildings. The former Rosewood Center dates to 1888 and once housed as many as 3,000 patients with developmental disabilities. Its population dwindled to 166 residents by 2010, when Gov. Martin O’Malley ordered its closure. Most of the remaining residents were relocated to group homes. State troopers, Baltimore County police and Baltimore police milled in a parking lot in front of a low brick building on the campus Tuesday afternoon. Sonya Boyce, a private security guard who watches over the abandoned buildings, said police told her only that there had been an accident. Boyce said that a number of agencies train at the facility but that she had never seen city officers there until recently. In the early afternoon, Baltimore County police cruisers blocked the cracked concrete roads that link the eerie abandoned buildings that once housed patients. Later, the county police left and were replaced by state troopers. Shortly before dusk, a Baltimore police minibus left with trainees wearing uniforms of a tan shirt and dark pants. The property, which includes 178 acres and more than 30 buildings constructed in the late-19th century through the 1960s, has been up for sale. Stevenson University had expressed interest in purchasing the land. However, concerns have been raised over costs to remove hazardous materials, including lead, asbestos and PCBs, toxic chemicals from coal ash dumping and leaking oil tanks. Although no local agencies have reported police trainees being injured during training exercises in recent years, a Baltimore fire recruit died during a live burn exercise in 2007 at an abandoned rowhouse. Racheal M. Wilson’s death halted live-burn exercises in the city, and Howard and Montgomery counties temporarily banned the training exercises. Wilson’s death also resulted in a top fire official losing his job. Investigations into the training found the house was unsafe and that more than 30 national safety standards were not followed during the planned blaze.
Why are the police called cops, pigs, or the fuzz?
May 31, 2005
Dear Straight Dope:
Could you tell me more about the words fuzz, pigs, and cops and how they pertain to police? — Mike Paproski
Etymology is rarely an exact science. Words or phrases spring up, become popular, and eventually may find their way into print. The process takes time, and it’s usually difficult or impossible to track backwards to discover where a particular word or phrase arose.
Let’s start with cop. Cop the noun is almost certainly a shortening of copper, which in turn derives from cop the verb. The London police were called bobbies, after Sir Robert Peel who advocated the creation of the Metropolitan Police Force in 1828. Copper as slang for policeman is first found in print in 1846, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The most likely explanation is that it comes from the verb “to cop” meaning to seize, capture, or snatch, dating from just over a century earlier (1704).
The derivation of the verb is unclear. Most authorities trace it to the French caper and before that to the Latin capere, to seize, take. Other English words derived from capere include capture. Thus, a copper is one who seizes. An alternative theory is that to cop comes from the Dutch kapen, meaning to take or to steal.
The word “cop” has other meanings as well, all connected to “catch” or “snatch”:
- To “cop out” meaning to withdraw or escape, or to evade responsibility
- To “cop it” meaning to be punished or get caught
- To “cop a plea” is to try to catch a lesser punishment by admitting to a lesser crime
- “A fair cop” means to be caught in the act.
As with many words, there are several stories floating around positing various origins, almost certainly false. The notion that cop is an acronym for “Constable On Patrol” is nonsense. Similarly, the word did not arise because police uniforms in New York (or London or wherever) had copper buttons, copper badges, or anything of the sort.
The term cop has had derogatory implications. J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime head of the FBI, disliked being called “top cop.”
The origin of “fuzz” is uncertain. The expression arose in America in the late 1920s and early 1930s, probably in the criminal underworld. It never quite replaced cop.
Evan Morris, The Word Detective, says:
Where in the world are you hearing people refer to the police as “fuzz”? . . . I have never heard a real person use it, unless you want to count Jack Webb on the old “Dragnet.” When I was growing up in the 1960s, we called police officers many things, but mostly we just called them “cops” and we never, ever, called them “the fuzz.” As a matter of fact, anybody calling the cops “the fuzz” would have been instantly suspected of being a cop. It would have been a faux pas right up there with ironing your blue jeans.
There are several theories about the origin of “fuzz”:
- American Tramp and Underworld Slang, published in 1931, suggests that “fuzz” was derived from “fuss,” meaning that the cops were “fussy” over trifles.
- A mispronunciation or mishearing of the warning “Feds!” (Federal agents). This seems unlikely.
- Etymologist Eric Partridge wonders if “fuzz” might have come from the beards of early police officers. This also seems improbable.
The term is not related to Fuzzy Wuzzy who wuz a bear. (You didn’t ask, but the term “bear” for police refers to the Smokey the Bear hat commonly worn by state troopers.)
Evan Morris suggests the word “arose as a term of contempt for police based on the use of ‘fuzz’ or ‘fuzzy’ in other items of derogatory criminal slang of the period. To be ‘fuzzy’ was to be unmanly, incompetent and soft. How better to insult the police, after all, than to mock them as ineffectual?” That explanation seems as good as any, and better than most.
If you thought the term pig arose in the 1960s, you’re in for a surprise. The OED cites an 1811 reference to a “pig” as a Bow Street Runner–the early police force, named after the location of their headquarters, before Sir Robert Peel and the Metropolitan Police Force (see above.) Before that, the term “pig” had been used as early as the mid-1500s to refer to a person who is heartily disliked.
The usage was probably confined to the criminal classes until the 1960s, when it was taken up by protestors. False explanations for the term involve the gas masks worn by the riot police in that era, or the pigs in charge of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
While police officers usually don’t mind being called “cops,” they aren’t usually fond of the term “pig.” A policeman’s lot is not an ‘appy one.
By the way, the French call their police gendarmes, which came from gens d’arme (people with weaponry) which ranked just below knight in medieval armies–the English equivalent would be “esquire,” perhaps. No, somehow I don’t think calling the police “squires” will catch on here.
Baltimore officer cleared of charges in shooting of man from inside police vehicle
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
12:16 PM EST, February 7, 2013
A Baltimore police officer who last year shot a knife-wielding man through the windshield of his car while seated inside the vehicle has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the city state’s attorney’s office. The April 10, 2012 shooting had drawn protests, with critics contending that the officer mishandled a call involving a mentally and physically disabled person. It was one of several police-involved shootings last year that involved calls for individuals with mental illness who were shot. But prosecutors said the shooting did not cross the line into a violation of the law. Officer Fred Murray, a 6-year veteran, was dispatched to a report of a man with a mental illness carrying a butcher knife, and encountered David Yim in the 1200 block of Oakhurst Pl. Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein, said Murray “tried to engage Mr. Yim with his windows down.” “At first, Mr. Yim failed to acknowledge the officer, then unexpectedly turned around and charged at Officer Murray, who was seated in his patrol car,” Cheshire said. “When Mr. Yim turned to charge, he had a large butcher knife in his hand.” Cheshire said Murray fired five shots through the windshield of the car, and police have previously said that Yim was on the passenger side of the vehicle. Yim was struck once in the side, and survived his injuries. A second knife was found in his waistband as he was taken into custody, authorities said. “Given that he was in fear for his life when Yim charged toward him, [Murray’s] use of deadly force was justified as an act of self-defense,” Cheshire said. “The officer was authorized under the Baltimore Police Department training guidelines to repel that deadly attack.” Murray’s attorney, Michael Davey, declined to discuss the shooting, saying Murray could still face internal police department discipline. “We’re just happy that the state’s attorney reviewed the case and came to the conclusion that we did, that Officer Murray clearly did not commit any violation of the law,” Davey said. “I’m sure the BPD will conduct an internal matter to determine if there are any training issues involved.” Yim’s mother has spoken out about the shooting, and activists such as the Rev. C.D. “Cortly” Witherspoon have cited the case in police protests. Janice Thompthin said her son suffers from mental illness, and was stabbed 11 years ago and is paralyzed on one side of his body. “He wasn’t a threat. They should have known that he was disabled from the way he moves,” Thompthin said at one rally. Witherspoon, who sharply criticized Bernstein’s recent decision not to charge officers in the death of Anthony Anderson in East Baltimore, said “there’s a different standard of justice applied to Baltimore City police officers in this city.” “Certainly, it sends the message to citizens that they should be fearful of the police, and exascerbates the community and police relations. It creates heightened tensions in the community,” Witherspoon said. “When Bernstein came into office, he said he wanted to re-establish ties with the police department. But this is going too far.”
Hero Medal of Honor Recipient Officer Gary Dresser Needs Assistance – Fundraiser
Police Officer Gary Dresser, who served in the Western District and Northern District’s, and was awarded the Medal of Honor after rescuing a fellow officer under fire.. is suffering from lung and liver cancer. In 1975 Gary was a recipient of the Baltimore Police Department Metal of Honor for saving the life of an Officer that had been shot. Under gun fire Gary, with no regard for his own life placed himself in the line of fire and pulled the Officer to safety. Gary is also a former United States Marine. Now Gary is in the fight for his own life and his medical bills are mounting and he now needs our help. On May 11, 2013, his family is having a fund raiser in New York at the American Legion to help with the medical bills. Please see below information and phone contact number. If anyone is interested in making the trip to the benefit or to see Gary please contact me at 443-250-7595.
Send donations to —
Tioga State Bank
183 Main Street
Newfield, NY 14867
Checks/money order made out to Gary Dresser and in the memo line state “for cancer benefit“. Please have any questions addressed to me, Kim Bailey, Gary’s daughter my cell number-443-857-7727.
The account will be set up this week or next. Physical donations such as a gift basket or a raffle item can be sent to Gay’s daughter Kim Bailey at:
Gary Dresser benefit donation
5139 Jacksonville Road
Trumansburg, NY 14886
City officer involved in deadly shooting
Posted: 8:43 PM 1/26/2013
By: Michael Quander, @MikeQReports
BALTIMORE (WMAR) – A Baltimore City Police Officer was involved in a shooting that left a man dead Friday evening. The shooting happened in the 500 block of North Madeira Street in East Baltimore around 8:00 p.m. Police say their officers were working when they noticed a man who broke away from a group of guys. Officers report attempting to question the man when a physical battle started. The man then reportedly ran away. It would be when the officer chased the man that he shoots a handgun at the policeman, officials say. Police add that the officer was not hit by the fired shots, but the man was killed when the officer fired back. The officer remains in a local hospital with minor injuries from the physical confrontation, police say.
Police activity shuts down Loch Raven Blvd
Police: suspect has makeshift flamethrower
Posted: 9:23 PM 1/11/2013
By: Michael Quander, @MikeQReports
BALTIMORE (WMAR) – Baltimore City Police have blocked off Loch Raven Blvd between Northern Parkway and Regester Avenue. ABC2 News crews on the scene report that the majority of police activity is in the 6400 block of Loch Raven Blvd at the Kirkwood House senior living facility. Some of the people who live there are being evacuated from their homes for safety. According to Anthony Guglielmi, spokesperson for the Baltimore City Police Department, officers responded to the high-rise apartment building around 8:30 p.m. Guglielmi confirms that the suspect blasted a makeshift flamethrower. Police fired shots back, but the bullets missed the suspect. According to Chief Kevin Cartwright, spokesperson for the Baltimore City Fire Department, crews originally responded to the scene for a report of a shooting. Upon arrival, they realized that there had not been a shooting, Cartwright said. Crews were able to quickly extinguish the fire, and two units remain on the scene for safety precautions. The suspect is barricaded in their apartment, and the police tactical team is now handling the incident, Guglielmi says. There is no word on if anyone was injured, but medical crews are on standby. Police Pursue Person Suspected of Striking Officers with Vehicle BALTIMORE – Officers with the Baltimore County Police Department are currently involved in a situation that crossed into county jurisdiction from the city Wednesday morning. Details are scarce at this point, but a pursuit involving at least a dozen law enforcement vehicles could be seen from the windows of ABC2 News on York Road. The chase ended at the intersection of Joppa and Walther in the Parkville/Carney area. Posts on Twitter from the Baltimore Police Department suggests the incident may have been an attempt to apprehend a suspect believed to have struck two city officers with a vehicle. It’s also indicated that BPD officers interrupted a possible drug transaction when they were struck by the vehicle on Belair Road.
Injuries to the officers hit by the vehicle are not believed to be life-threatening. The were transported by medics to the infirmary. One officer has an arm injury, the other has a leg injury.
The vehicle involved has Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) tags. Investigators say they have yet to resolve if the vehicle was stolen or not.
Witnesses at the scene say a female was taken into custody.
Check back with ABC2 News as we continue to follow this story.
Retired Marshal Jacob Frey Buried
Notable men attend funeral of Former Police Chief
The Sun Jan 5 1911
With his bier surrounded by veteran policemen who admired him in life for his ability and courage, the funeral of ex-marshal Jacob Frey, who Died Sunday night, took place at 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon from his home 510 N Carey St.
The service conducted by Rev Harry D Mitchell, Pastor Harlem Methodist Episcopal Church, brought tears not only to the eyes of the veteran Police, and family, but also to the several members of the old Lobby Club, which met several years ago at Fords opera house.
The pallbearers were Messrs Emerson Loudenslager, Frank Reynolds, Rodger Reynolds, Jacob Frey, George Frey, and Roger Frey, grandsons and nephews of Marshal Frey. Burial was in Greenmount Cemetery.
The parlor were beautiful floral tributes sent by friends and by policemen from all 9 districts.
three bank president – Mr. Donald H Thomas, Mr. Thornton Rollins, and Mr. Jacob Hook – all of whom were closely associated with Mr. Frey in life and who were members of the lobby club, were present
Marshal Farnan, with all district captains in uniform, also attended and when the body was carried to the hearse from the house, they formed a guard on the pavement.
At grave Mr. Mitchell paid a glowing eulogy to Mr. Frey. Besides Marshal Farnan and Messrs. Thomas, Rollins and Hook the following were present:
Deputy Marshal Manning, Johns Swikert, secretary to Marshal Farnan, Josiah A. Kinsey, secretary to the police board, Captains League, McGee, Santry, Cole, Morheiser, Henry, Moxley, and Gottings, Serge, Edward Shultz,
Retired Capts. Cadwalder and Gilbert and Retired officers P H Stewart, Augustus Reinhardt, W J Fairbanks, William Wallace, William Pearson, and Andrew J Saucer.
Messrs, Robert Fusselbough and William J Murray
Police inspector Andrew Houghton of Boston also attended
Baltimore City Foxtrot helicopter makes emergency landing
No injuries in incident and helicopter able to fly back to base, police say
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun
10:28 AM EST, January 5, 2013
A Baltimore Police Department’s helicopter made an emergency landing in Reedbird Park Friday night after facing technical difficulties, police said.
No one was injured in the landing, which was made as a precautionary measure, according to police spokesman Det. Vernon Davis. No details were immediately available about what caused the incident.
The helicopter was able to fly back to its helipad shortly after making the landing, Davis said.
The Baltimore police aviation unit, which is known as Foxtrot, got four new helicopters with better surveillance tools last year.
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore police place focus on building faith-based ties
Activities such as “prayer walks” and “outreach events” expected to help department better reach the community
By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun
8:07 PM EST, January 4, 2013
When drug dealers and prostitutes camped outside Eastern United Methodist Church last fall, the Rev. Lena Marie Dennis met with Baltimore police Maj. Melvin Russell and other faith leaders and came up with a unique plan.
The congregation would march around the church seven times, carrying banners, praying and proclaiming that they were taking back the block. It worked, Dennis said. Soon the dealers and hookers moved on.
On Friday, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts and Russell announced an effort to build faith-based partnerships across the city, which organizers hope will embolden worshipers to reach out beyond their walls. Police believe the initiative will also help improve relationships in communities that sometimes see them as a foreign and threatening presence.
“Most of our churches have a tremendous amount of credibility,” Batts said.
The commissioner recently promoted Russell to lieutenant colonel, in large part on the reputation he built by working with ministers, rabbis and priests as the leader of the Eastern District. He’s heading a newly created unit responsible for working with spiritual organizations, businesses and former inmates re-entering society.
In East Baltimore, Russell said he learned years ago that police can also help churches build community rapport.
An assistant pastor himself, Russell said he was taken aback by a drug dealer he spoke with who told him that many saw churches as no better than crack or heroin peddlers. The perception was that churches sucked up the community’s money through tithes and offerings but gave nothing back.
As relations between residents, religious leaders and police improved, Russell said, the difference was clear.
Home to 47 homicides in 2007, the Eastern District has historically been recognized as one of the city’s most violent. Russell took command of the district in 2008, and the homicide count dropped to 38. In 2011, it was down to 28.
Last year, Russell said, the total number of shootings declined for the third consecutive year, but the district saw 37 killings. That was the most in any city police district, a reminder of the difficulties that the new unit will face, even with successful community cooperation.
Jim Nolan, an associate professor at West Virginia University who focuses on crime and social control, said partnerships with places of worship are an effective long-term strategy, especially in cities. Pastors often provide police with the emotional pulse of communities, which can help officers decide the best methods to reach often distrustful residents.
“When police act as if neighbors need to be dependent on them to protect them, they come up with their own strategies, which involve a lot of arrests and sweeping the corners,” said Nolan, a former Wilmington, Del., police officer. “But many neighborhoods don’t like the police and don’t want them to come.”
As part of the initiative in Baltimore, police are hoping to strengthen information-gathering on the streets, something Batts said could have helped control gang skirmishes that flared up last fall and resulted in a string of shootings and killings.
About 25 faith leaders attended Friday’s initial meeting at the Humanim nonprofit center in the American Brewery building. After an opening prayer, attendees tackled an agenda that included relationship-building, ways to support released or paroled prisoners and “increasing prayer and serving beyond the church walls.”
Police hope the meetings continue monthly and even more frequently on smaller scales between neighborhood religious leaders and the police commanders who oversee the same blocks.
The move toward strengthening the bonds between police and faith leaders was just one facet of a new “community policing division” that Batts created last month as part of a broad reshuffling of the agency’s command staff. Batts, who took over the department in the fall, tapped new leadership for four patrol districts and the homicide unit and created units focused on community relations and gangs.
The community unit, which will be paid for and staffed using existing department resources, has “reached out to every single denomination,” Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. “Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, every one of them.”
While partnerships with Baltimore police and churches aren’t new, Batts found Russell’s work with congregations in the Eastern District exemplary and wanted to replicate it citywide. The commissioner said he knows the value of churches for police from his time as a police chief in California.
“It has worked for him in his area,” Batts said, “and it has worked for me in Oakland and it worked for me in Long Beach.”
Early on in East Baltimore, Russell asked some of the 120 places of worship in his district to “come outside of those [church] walls,” reaching out to drug houses or homes marked by repeated domestic violence.
Pastors bought in and began “prayer walks” that broke down communication barriers between residents, police and churches. Residents began sharing prayer requests and their needs with church members, who passed on those requests to police walking beside them. Police could then call on various nonprofit and governmental services for help.
“What you began to see was transformation in the community,” Russell said.
The Rev. Rodney Hudson, pastor of Ames Memorial United Methodist Church in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, is hoping for positive results citywide. He already works closely with Western District officers, sharing information and holding joint community meetings.
“As a faith leader, I view police as having special God-ordered authority to keep peace and order,” he said.
That’s crucial in a neighborhood such as Sandtown, he said, where he’s seen the effects of violent family disputes spill into his church. On one occasion, he ministered to the families of a murder suspect and victim in the same crime — a tough situation.
Just as police can help him, he said, he can help officers and detectives understand neighborhood and family dynamics.
O’Malley’s thuggish side
Governor wants the world to see a kind and inclusive Maryland — but don’t you dare disagree with him
Marta H. Mossburg
10:14 AM EST, January 3, 2013
Attention national media: You know Martin O’Malley, defender of the underdog. It’s time to get to know Martin O’Malley, thug.
The Maryland governor, widely rumored to harbor presidential aspirations, canonized himself in the progressive movement for championing gay marriage and in-state tuition for some illegal immigrants in the last election. He also deftly weaved a portrait of Maryland as a green energy, public-education utopia during his many appearances on national cable TV news during election season as President Barack Obama’s surrogate.
But the man who says that we should celebrate diversity cannot tolerate those who oppose his political viewpoints.
Here are three examples from the past year:
•The champagne had not stopped flowing from celebrating big wins for gay marriage and the Dream Act (the in-state tuition bill) before Governor O’Malley told WBAL that it is “a little too easy” to petition a law to referendum. (Both laws had been passed in the General Assembly and were pushed to the ballot via the referendum process by opponents.) “We’ve been best served in our state over the 200 or more years of our history by a representative democracy, rather than plebiscites,” he said.
How clever of him to use the language of democracy to undermine it. It is not simple to move a law to the ballot. Thousands of signatures must be collected and then verified by the state, part of the reason no statewide referendum had made it to the ballot in the previous 20 years. And there is no mechanism to put new laws on the ballot; only one to refer laws previously approved by the state legislature.
In addition, the pro-Dream Act advocacy group Casa de Maryland sued to remove that question from the ballot. The Democratic Party sued the state to remove another referred law, which placed the new, outlandishly drawn congressional map to a vote of the people. And MD Petitions, the force behind putting the congressional map, the Dream Act and gay marriage on the ballot, sued the state — and lost — in an attempt to get accurate ballot language for the congressional map question. MD Petitions, which largely automated the petition process online, received pro bono legal help from Judicial Watch because it did not have the means to defend itself — unlike Casa de Maryland, which receives millions from the state and local governments, or the Democratic Party, which dominates politics in this state.
So for Governor O’Malley, the democratic process works best when he can push his agenda unopposed and when the Internet can be used only to help Democrats.
•In the run up to the election Governor O’Malley strongly supported a ballot measure to expand gambling to Prince George’s County. Perhaps frustrated by polls showing the question up for grabs (it eventually won 52-48), he unleashed a tirade against Peter Carlino, CEO of Penn National Gaming. The company opposed expanding gambling in the state and funded ads that debunked supporters’ claims that public education would receive more money as a result of the ballot measure’s passage.
“I would have expected more from Mr. Carlino, but I guess there’s enough money at stake that he has to run these falsehoods,” said Mr. O’Malley at a news conference in October. “I mean, what’s the guarantee that a house won’t fall on Mr. Carlino tomorrow?”
•The O’Malley administration supports State Center, a $1.5 billion taxpayer-financed project in Baltimore City whose developers happen to have hired some allies of the governor. A group of plaintiffs sued to stop the project, claiming the process for selecting the developers violated competitive bidding laws. The O’Malley administration tried to dismiss the case, failed, then countersued plaintiffs for $100 million and lost. Plaintiffs are still waiting for the state to turn over documents in the case as ordered by court. In the meantime, the O’Malley administration tried to push through legislation in the General Assembly that would have rewritten the law for the project retroactively and circumvented existing rulings.
Lesson: if you are not a multi-millionaire like Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos, who is bankrolling the plaintiffs, don’t try to oppose the governor.
How many more examples are necessary to show that Mr. O’Malley’s inclusive, tolerant veneer chips easily and reveals a man who, whether through temperament or proximity to power, sees the law as something to use or disregard for his own good?
Marta H. Mossburg is a senior fellow at the Maryland Public Policy Institute and a fellow at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Her column appears regularly in The Baltimore Sun. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Batts pledges ‘dramatic’ reform of speed camera process
Police chief says extra training, supervision and auditing will cut down on erroneous tickets
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun
8:13 PM EST, January 4, 2013
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said Friday that his officers’ rushed review of speed camera tickets has produced “unacceptable” mistakes and pledged “dramatic” reform of the system, including increased staffing.
“To be perfectly honest, we’ve made some mistakes that we shouldn’t have been making in reviewing citations,” Batts said in his first public comments since The Baltimore Sun found Baltimore’s speed cameras have been issuing erroneous citations. “I’ve sat down and gone through the process, and we’re making some dramatic changes. We’re going to slow down. We’re going to audit the process.”
The Police Department has said a single officer typically reviews 1,000 to 1,200 of the machine-generated citations per shift — sometimes as many as five or six per minute. By law, the city must issue a $40 ticket within two weeks of one of its 83 speed cameras snapping a photo of an alleged speeder. With thousands of tickets to process, that means officers are frequently spending only a few seconds reviewing each ticket, leaving little time to properly determine whether the camera correctly nabbed a speeder or an innocent motorist.
During an investigation of area speed camera systems, The Sun discovered a series of erroneous tickets, including violation notices sent to drivers traveling less than 20 miles per hour and one sitting motionless at a red light.
“We’re putting systems in place so that we have an error-free system,” Batts said, adding that the reforms would include “extra training,” “extra supervision” and “extra auditing.” He said the reforms were already being implemented.
“We’ve already started them,” he said. “I had a meeting earlier this month. … I sat down with those responsible for doing the auditing and checking the tickets, and we’ve already started putting those systems in place.”
In an email, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department will increase staffing to review speed camera citations by Jan. 25.
“Our staffing will increase and be broken into quality compliance, speed camera, and red light cameras,” he said, adding that the number of additional staff has not been determined. “This will be phased in as cameras come on line and is a direct response to the number of tickets we will be reviewing.”
The police officials did not say which units in the department would provide the additional staff.
A city councilman who has called for an investigation of the city’s camera system praised the promised changes. “I’m very much in support of increasing the staffing and training to make sure the only people getting tickets are the ones who deserve them,” said Councilman Brandon Scott of Northeast Baltimore.
Ragina Averella, manager of government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the motorist advocacy group was encouraged by Batts’ comments. The changes “will hopefully improve the review process and minimize the issuance of erroneous citations,” said Averella, who serves on a city task force studying the camera system.
Critics of the automated cameras have argued that the city relies too much on technology, which is known to sometimes produce false readings, and skimps on doing a substantive review of the tickets. For instance, city officials have acknowledged that in 2011, their red light camera system issued about 2,000 tickets to motorists with a signature bearing the name of a dead police officer.
Khalil A. Zaied, the city’s transportation director, has said he’s concerned that police officers are not doing a careful review of citations.
“It obviously doesn’t make any sense for a police officer to be reviewing three to four to five tickets per minute,” Zaied said recently. “That is going to make it very difficult.”
Batts’ comments came after a Friday morning news conference with faith leaders in East Baltimore. There, he empathized with innocent motorists who receive erroneous tickets, such as Lauraville lawyer Daniel Doty, whom city officials accused of speeding at 38 mph when he was actually sitting motionless at a red light.
“No one, including myself, wants to get a ticket for something that you did not do,” Batts said. “The impact of taking time off from your job, the impact of having to pay something like that is unacceptable.”
Later, Batts called The Sun to emphasize that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has created a task force to analyze the cameras, and that too many people are speeding on city roads.
“The purpose of the cameras is to protect kids,” he said. “We have a lot of people speeding near schools.”
The city’s former speed camera vendor, Xerox State & Local Solutions, acknowledged last month that several of Baltimore’s cameras have an error rate of greater than 5 percent. And the city’s deputy transportation director said he no longer has full confidence in the accuracy of the city speed cameras’ radar systems, prompting officials to start a new “reasonableness” test on two cameras known to have issued erroneous tickets.
As of Jan. 1, a new vendor, Brekford Corp. of Hanover, has taken over operation of the city’s speed cameras.
The Sun has also found that tickets issued by Baltimore County, Howard County and the State Highway Administration don’t include enough information for drivers receiving tickets to verify their alleged speeds. Several jurisdictions have entered into contracts that pay their vendors by the ticket, an arrangement Gov. Martin O’Malley has said is illegal.
Baltimore replacing entire speed camera system
All 83 speed cameras will be scrapped at $450,000 cost after Sun investigation uncovered numerous errors
By Luke Broadwater and Scott Calvert, The Baltimore Sun
9:36 PM EST, January 7, 2013
Baltimore officials said Monday they are scrapping all 83 of the city’s automated speed cameras and “methodically” replacing them with newer models, after a Baltimore Sun investigation found errors with the system.
The overhaul, estimated to cost about $450,000, comes after the city’s new speed camera contractor, Brekford Corp., analyzed Baltimore’s system and concluded the only way to cut down on the errors was to replace all the cameras with newer models, the company said.
Maurice R. Nelson, managing director of Brekford, said hiring enough employees and police officers to catch all the errors the old cameras were generating would be too expensive.
“The old radar cameras have not progressed with technology,” Nelson said, adding that new cameras with “tracking” technology can focus on and follow a specific car and cut down on machine-created errors. “We want to rely on the systems and less on humans, who make errors. If you’re using the old radar cameras and it’s picking up something that’s not the car in the photograph, you leave yourself open to errors.”
City Transportation Department spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes called the new cameras “state of the art” and said some camera locations would need to be taken offline during the upgrade. The current cameras, some of which were originally red-light cameras upgraded to catch speeders, range in age, with some purchased recently and others in use for a decade or more.
Del. Curt S. Anderson, the chairman of Baltimore’s state legislative delegation, applauded the city’s announcement.
“If there is not a great degree of confidence in the cameras, then yes, make the change,” he said.
But he wants the city’s contractor and not taxpayers to foot the bill.
“I know how government works,” Anderson said. “Nobody wants to say the taxpayers are paying for it. They’ll say the money is coming out of future revenues from the program.”
City officials did not respond to a question about financing the upgrade. Nelson said he planned to charge the city about $5,500 for each new camera purchased.
The Sun reported on scores of erroneous tickets during its investigation, including one violation issued to a minivan that was sitting motionless at a red light.
The city’s former speed camera vendor, Xerox State & Local Solutions, acknowledged last month that several of Baltimore’s cameras have an error rate of greater than 5 percent. And the city’s deputy transportation director said he no longer has full confidence in the accuracy of the radar in the city speed camera system, which has issued more than 1.6 million tickets since the first camera went online in late 2009.
Ian Brennan, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, stressed the importance of getting the camera program right.
“The administration has always taken camera accuracy seriously, and that is why Mayor Rawlings-Blake appointed a task force of transportation and safety experts to review the entire program,” he said in an email. “At the same time, hundreds of thousands of motorists are illegally speeding in school zones; it’s dangerous and the camera program has helped reduced speeding.”
Transportation advocates applauded the purchase of new cameras.
“We are pleased that the city is making a good-faith effort by addressing the operational and technical issues that have really placed the automated speed camera program under scrutiny,” said Ragina Averella, government and public affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic and a member of the mayor’s task force. “This is certainly a step in the right direction.”
But Ron Ely, editor of an anti-speed-camera blog called Stop Big Brother Maryland, remained skeptical of the system, even if it is upgraded with new technology.
“That sounds very fancy,” he said. “We’ll see how it works out.”
The volume of tickets generated under the old system also led to some problems, city officials have said. Last year, the city collected more than $19 million, and it is on track to make even more this fiscal year. But the frenetic pace of processing tickets meant that police officers were sometimes asked to analyze up to 1,200 per shift.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said Friday that his officers’ rushed review of speed camera tickets has produced “unacceptable” mistakes and pledged “dramatic” reform of the system, including increased staffing.
Nelson said the new cameras might result in less revenue for the city because they will be more conservative in determining when a driver has exceeded the speed limit by 12 mph or more, the threshold in state law.
“The downside is our system will kick out more than not,” Nelson said. “You have a system that will err on the side of the driver.”
Baltimore City Councilman Robert W. Curran said it didn’t bother him that the new cameras would likely generate less revenue.
“Obviously, we need to be accurate,” he said. “It’s not about the revenue. The public needs to be confident in the system.”
City officials did not say when the replacement process will begin or how long it will take, and Barnes said the government will not publicize when cameras are offline “in the interest of public safety.”
Even as the city pledged to buy new cameras, there appeared to be confusion about who is currently operating the city’s speed cameras — or whether the cameras are operating at all.
The city’s speed camera system has been in transition since Jan. 1, when Baltimore terminated its contract with Xerox, which served as the city’s speed camera contractor since 2009. Hanover-based Brekford won a bidding competition to take over but has yet to sign a contract, according to Brekford.
Xerox spokesman Chris Gilligan said that on New Year’s Eve, “our contract expired and the city began its transition to a new vendor.” On Wednesday, Barbara Zektick, chairwoman of a city task force studying the cameras, said Brekford has “actively stepped in.”
But Nelson said Monday that the company had not yet begun managing the city’s cameras because it had not signed a contract.
“I have no idea,” he said, when asked who is currently running the speed cameras. “As soon as the ink gets placed on the contract, I am prepared to do what we have to do.”
Nelson said he believes the city’s current crop of cameras suffer from several well-known radar errors, including beams measuring the biggest object on the road — but ticketing smaller ones — and bouncing off several objects, producing erroneous readings.
The new radar systems, he said, “won’t make those same mistakes.”
Ely said it’s hard to say how much difference the new cameras might make because the city hasn’t provided technical specifications of the existing cameras. Regardless of technology, he said the city will need to ensure a strong review process and employ a secondary verification method, such as painting white lines on the road to show how far a car travels in the split-second between the two photographs the cameras are required to produce under state law.
“Doing that type of verification is what will prevent errors in the future,” Ely said. City officials “have to assume the devices are capable of being wrong. If they do otherwise, they’ll wind up in the same situation later.”
Attached are a cover letter, the final Judgment Order and the Order Staying Judgment Pending Appeal issued by Judge Garbis on December 28, 2012. The City has appealed the decision. The F&P will continue the provisions of Ordinance 10-306 until resolution of the appeals process. Remember the First Active Member to be impacted by the change from 20 to 25 years will not occur until 1 July 2015. By that time all legal appeals should have taken their course. This may not be understood but even if Members are forced to work for 25 years in order to secure a Pension, the rate of accrual will not change, if you work until 25 years you will accrue a 60% Pension as opposed to 50% at 20 years. Questions may be emailed to Vic Gearhart or asked in person at any FOP Meeting.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
ROBERT F. CHERRY, JR., et al. *
vs. * CIVIL ACTION NO. MJG-10-1447
MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL OF *
BALTIMORE CITY, et al. *
* * * * * * * * *
By separate Orders the Court has resolved all claims presented in the instant case.
1. Judgment shall be, and hereby is, entered on Plaintiffs’ claims presented in the First Amended and Restated Class Action Complaint as follows:
a. Count I – The amendments made to the Fire and Police Employees’ Retirement System of the City of Baltimore by Sections 36A(b), 36A(h), 36A(i), 36A(j), 34(s-1), and 30(9)(ii) of Ordinance 10-306 are declared invalid and not enforceable. The other provisions of Ordinance 10-306 are severable and not declared invalid and unenforceable.
b. Count II – All claims are dismissed with prejudice.
c. Count III – All claims are dismissed without prejudice.
d. Count IV – All claims are dismissed without prejudice.
e. Count V – All claims are dismissed without prejudice. 2
f. Count VI – All claims are dismissed without prejudice.
g. Count VII – All claims are dismissed with prejudice.
h. Count VIII – All claims are dismissed without prejudice.
i. Count IX – All claims are dismissed without prejudice.
2. Any and all prior rulings disposing of any claims against any parties are incorporated by reference herein.
3. This Order shall be deemed to be a final judgment within the meaning of Rule 58 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
4. Plaintiffs shall recover their assessable costs from Defendant Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City.
SO ORDERED, this Friday, December 28, 2012.
/s/__________ Marvin J. Garbis
United States District Judge
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
ROBERT F. CHERRY, JR., et al. *
vs. * CIVIL ACTION NO. MJG-10-1447
MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL OF *
BALTIMORE CITY, et al. *
* * * * * * * * *
ORDER STAYING JUDGMENT PENDING APPEAL
The Court has, this date, issued a Judgment Order pursuant to Rule 58. Both sides intend to seek appellate review and a resolution that would differ from that provided in the Judgment. Moreover, it is in the public interest to defer the effect of the Judgment until the conclusion of appellate proceedings relating thereto.
Accordingly, the Judgment Order and any enforcement thereof is hereby stayed pending final resolution of appellate proceedings relating thereto.
SO ORDERED, on Friday, December 28, 2012.
/s/________ Marvin J. Garbis
United States District Judge
City killings up to 217 as gun violence falls Gangs were shooting each other in the head’; overall crime down about 5 percent
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
8:29 PM EST, January 1, 2013
Baltimore was unable in 2012 to sustain a significant milestone — the first drop below 200 homicides in a generation — but officials see reasons to remain optimistic that declines will resume. As the Police Department’s leadership changed, the city recorded 217 killings, about 10 percent more than the 197 in 2011, but still the second-lowest homicide rate since the late 1980s. Police statistics released Tuesday show that total crime and most categories of gun violence continued to decline. “While we continue to make progress, I’m not satisfied that we’ve had an uptick in homicides,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “I’m confident we will be able to continue the work of dramatically reducing crime to make Baltimore a safer city in the new year. But I do wish we had done better this year.” Two days in August helped illustrate the obstacles police face in reducing violence. On Aug. 16, gunmen shot brothers Troy and Euclides Manley and ransacked their Southwest Baltimore home. As detectives worked to identify and apprehend the killers, the cycle of retribution was already in motion: The next night, the mother and brother of a suspect were killed outside their home. For the year, more than 60 percent of those who died in shootings were shot in the head, which experts say points to a high number of execution-style killings. That’s the highest percentage in 10 years’ worth of Police Department data. Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said the number of homicides was up largely because the city was the stage for two violent gang wars that were fueled by targeted attacks meant to kill, as opposed to unplanned bursts of gunfire that might have left victims wounded but alive. “Those gangs were shooting each other in the head. They were assassinating each other,” Batts said. Batts, who spent his law enforcement career in California before taking the reins of the Baltimore force this fall, said the agency must respond by improving its intelligence-gathering in 2013. “We have to rebuild and construct our intelligence piece, so we can focus on these micro-rivalries taking place that are leaving a lot of death and destruction behind,” he said. But the agency needs the public’s help, he said. Referring last week to the percentage of homicides that have been closed by arrests, Batts said: “Right now, our clearance rate is at 48 percent. I don’t think we can go higher until we build trust with the community and have the community participating as full-fledged partners.” The clearance rate includes cases from prior years that were closed in 2012. At a recent vigil in Cherry Hill, Delaino Johnson, who works with the Safe Streets anti-violence program there, said residents must take responsibility. “We need to police our own communities,” Johnson said through a bullhorn, with the tearful father of 26-year-old homicide victim Michael Robinson Jr. standing nearby. “We are the strongest when we’re together.” In recent years, nationwide trends have defied predictions that the weak economy would lead to spikes in crime. In Baltimore, overall crime in 2012 was down about 5 percent from the previous year — amid a continued trend of fewer arrests, according to unofficial data. Arrests in the city have been on a steady decline since 2005, and the number of people detained and released without charges — an indicator of the quality of the arrests — has plummeted. Gun crime, meanwhile, fell 6 percent from the previous year, according to police data. The number of juvenile victims continues on a steep decline, with deaths of infants for the first time outpacing killings of juveniles related to street crime. But the city’s homicide rate remains a distressing focal point. Baltimore saw a double-digit year-over-year increase along with cities such as Chicago, Oakland and Detroit, while totals were largely unchanged in New Orleans, St. Louis and Philadelphia. Killings fell to a modern-day low in New York City in 2012. Washington, which once had more than 500 killings a year, recorded fewer than 90 last year. Perhaps not coincidentally, the District of Columbia’s population is growing and is expected to surpass that of Baltimore for the first time. Gov. Martin O’Malley said he is not among those who chalk up Washington’s crime declines to gentrification. “I don’t think there’d be gentrification if they were still at 500 homicides,” O’Malley said. He believes Baltimore is “three, four, maybe five years behind D.C.” in crime declines. The increase in homicides in Baltimore last year came largely in the Eastern and Northwestern police districts, where there had been notable decreases in 2011, as well as from an uptick in the Northern District. Ten people were killed in the Harwood-Better Waverly-Barclay area alone, between the Northern and Eastern districts near Greenmount Avenue. Batts attributed the increase in violence to warring gangs, saying that the prison-based Black Guerrilla Family was extorting other gangs, leading to a turf war between the BGF and the Bloods. But it was unclear how many shootings were gang-related — police often say publicly that they know of no motive for the attacks — and most remain unsolved. The Police Department made arrests in several high-profile cases in 2012. Those included the disappearance of Phylicia Barnes, whose sister’s ex-boyfriend was charged with murder in the North Carolina teen’s death; the killing of 12-year-old Sean Johnson in 2011; and charges in a series of retaliatory shootings in East Baltimore, an investigation coordinated by a new major crimes unit in the state’s attorney’s office. But city homicide investigators continue to struggle to close cases. And in some instances, police and prosecutors continue to clash behind the scenes, with prosecutors exerting greater oversight over when charges can be brought. Among the year’s unsolved cases is the stabbing death of 84-year-old Mary Hines, whose East Baltimore home was set on fire with her body inside. Col. Garnell Green, who has led the homicide unit for the past year and will be moving to oversee the patrol division, said Hines’ death was “deeply troubling to us all.” “Detectives have solved many of [2012’s] murders and continue to make good progress,” Green said. “However, in the case of Mary Hines, we are continuing to ask for the public’s help. Someone out there knows what happened. … We have some good leads, but we still need the public’s help.” Other unsolved cases include those of Alonzo Gladden, 24, a sailor visiting family in South Baltimore while on leave from the Navy; Peter Marvit, a researcher for the National Institutes of Health shot in front of his Northeast Baltimore home; and 22-year-old Larelle Amos, who was killed outside a Northeast Baltimore party by a stray bullet. Police ask anyone with information on these or other killings to call 410-396-2100. Batts announced last week a major reshuffling of igence-gathering. He has emphasized foot patrols, and the agency has started a partnership with state troopers in high-crime areas on weekends. O’Malley said federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are working together more and have never been better aligned. “It would be nice if there were steady and mathematically predictable progress all the time, but sometimes that’s not the way the real world works,” O’Malley said of Baltimore year’s in crime. “I’m hopeful that the new commissioner, after this long period of transition, will be able to restore the focus to violent crime reduction.” Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article
Demographics of 2012 Baltimore Homicides
the department’s leadership positions — moves designed to focus on community outreach and intell
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
12:58 PM EST, January 1, 2013
[This data has been updated] Each year, the Baltimore Police homicide section compiles statistics on city killings. Here’s how some of the data break down: Murders: 217 Clearance rate (cases closed by arrest or administratively): 47.4 percent Victims injured in prior years who died this year: 7 Cases from prior years closed this year (which counts toward this year’s clearance rate, per FBI guidelines): 28 Cause: Arson: 1 Blunt force: 7 (3.6%) Handgun: 181 (83.4%) Knife/sharp object: 20 (9.2%) Shotgun/rifle: 2 Strangle/suffocation: 2 Vehicle: 1 Other: 3 Gender: Male: 196 (90.3%) Female: 21 (9.7%) Race: Asian: 1 Black: 204 (94.4%) Hispanic: 1 White: 10 (4.6%) Age groups: Juvenile: 11 (5%) Adult: 206 (95%) 35 and over: 72 (33.2%) 25-34: 68 (31.3%) 24 and under: 77 (35.5%) Motives: Argument: 14 Arson: 1 Child abuse: 6 Dispute over money: 2 Domestic: 3 Drugs: 3 Neighborhood (dispute?): 1 Retaliation: 3 Robbery: 10 Other: 10 Unknown: 163 District: Central: 15 Southeastern: 11 Eastern: 36 Northeastern: 27 Northern: 24 Northwestern: 28 Western: 30 Southwestern: 32 Southern: 14 (Known) suspects with criminal records: 79.1 percent Suspects with drug arrests: 61.6 percent Suspects on parole and probation at time of killing: 23.3 percent Suspects arrested for prior gun crimes: 45.3 percent Victims with criminal records: 82.3 percent Victims with drug arrests: 68.4 percent Victims on parole and probation at time of death: 24.2 percent Victims arrested for prior gun crimes: 37.7 percent Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun
Place Your Bets on… O’Malley’s political fortunes: Is he primed for a presidential run in 2016?
Originally Published in the Baltimore Business Journal Government Transparency
by Sarah Gantz MPPI IN THE NEWS
December 30, 2012
Gov. Martin O’Malley has danced on the national political stage before. As chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, he’s made stops in political hot spots like New Hampshire. The Democratic National Committee gave him a coveted prime time spot for his address at this year’s Democratic National Convention. He’s nearly a regular on the Sunday morning talk shows. Political analysts seem to agree that a gig in national politics is of interest to O’Malley. But the move from state politics to national politics is a significant leap — one that will take careful planning to keep his political career blemish-free until race time, a plan for appealing to a more diverse group of people and money. Lots of money. “It’s a reach of almost galactic portion to go from a medium-size state to the national scene,” said Herbert C. Smith, a professor at McDaniel College and coauthor of the book “Maryland Politics and Government: Democratic Dominance. It’s a tremendous jump.” O’Malley brings with him a solid track record of getting things done and has already made progress in introducing himself to voters in other states, both key to creating a positive image for a national office run, said Don Kettl, dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. O’Malley’s administration bet big on health reform, pushing Maryland as a trailblazer in implementing the federal Affordable Care Act while other states waited to see whether the Supreme Court would deem the law unconstitutional or whether a new Republican administration would de-fang the legislation. The approval this November of three controversial ballot initiatives — tuition for immigrant children, same-sex marriage and expanded gambling — was also seen as a major win for O’Malley, who had pushed hard for all three. “It’s very clear the American public hungers for someone who can step in and solve the big problems,” Kettl said. “Governors actually get to do things — not just cut ribbons, but implement programs that affect a lot of people.” The fact that O’Malley has succeeded in getting his ideas passed in Maryland may have gained him some recognition. But how and why he has succeeded may not appeal to more moderate voters, said Christopher Summers, president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute. “Maryland is very progressive — the rest of the country is just not like that,” Summers said. Summers said the fact that Maryland is so liberal means O’Malley’s compromising and negotiation skills may not be up to snuff for national office. Another big change, should O’Malley shoot for a national office, is the amount of money it takes to fuel a successful campaign. O’Malley raised more than $12 million for his 2010 race against Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to presidential races. The campaigns and parties of Mitt Romney and President Obama spent about $1 billion each.
Man wounded, dog killed in separate police-involved shootings Shooting of dog Tuesday angers owner; man wounded Wednesday expected to survive
By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun
7:16 PM EST, January 2, 2013
A Baltimore police officer shot a man during a foot chase Wednesday, marking the second time in two days that a Northeast district officer fired a gun while in pursuit of a suspect. Just one person was injured in the separate shootings — the man shot Wednesday was struck in the hand. He was being treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital. A foot chase Tuesday in the Frankford and Cedonia neighborhoods ended with an officer shooting and killing a dog. In Wednesday’s shooting, police said a man flashed a gun while being chased. Officers found no weapon after several officers and a police dog scoured the shooting scene. The incident began with a routine traffic stop at about 2 p.m. in the Belair-Edison neighborhood, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Uniformed officers had stopped a car on the 3200 block of Cliftmont Ave. when a man jumped out and began running. Two officers followed the man, who crossed Edison Highway and ducked into an alley behind Cliftmont Avenue. The man turned toward the officers and “engaged” them, Guglielmi said. One officer reported seeing a gun and his partner fired at least one round, striking the suspect in the hand, Guglielmi said. Police did not know whether the officer who fired his gun saw a weapon or whether he fired on the word of his partner, whom he told investigators he was protecting. Homicide detectives, who customarily investigate all police-involved shootings, were looking into the incident. “How he turned, what [officers] saw, those are the questions being investigated,” Guglielmi said. Police would not release the name of the officers involved Wednesday, saying the names would be released after 48 hours, as is department policy. They didn’t release the name of the man shot. Guglielmi didn’t know the grounds for the traffic stop. In the Frankford chase a day earlier, police went around 11 a.m. to a home in the 5800 block of Arizona Ave. for a report of a domestic dispute. Tavon Green, 31, who lives on the 1700 block of Latrobe Ave., told police that his former girlfriend was “disrespecting him” and had told him to leave the home, according to a police report. After verbal spats with police, a detective told Green he was under arrest, prompting him to jump a backyard chain-link fence of a home in the 5500 block of Bucknell Road. Police followed and found him hiding on a home’s rear basement steps. An officer drew his gun. At that time, a dog came out of the home and charged at the police officer, the report said. Police shot and killed the dog, then took Green into custody after a brief struggle. Police said the shooting was justified. “If the dog was aggressive towards the officers or threatened the officers or anyone else,” Guglielmi said, “we have the legal right to protect the officer or anyone else and make the situation as safe as possible.” But the dog’s owner, Stacy Fields, disputed the police account and said the officer used unneeded force. She said the dog only barked at the officer and didn’t charge. Fields’ stepfather, who followed the dog out of the home, was about to grab the dog’s harness when she said the officer fired six shots, hitting the dog three times — twice in the head and once in the body. “He very well could have shot my stepfather,” she said. The dog had just turned three, Fields said. Named Kincaid, he was a white pitbull mix with brown around his eyes and ears and white stripe running up his snout and forehead. Fields has called on police to apologize but said she hasn’t received any response to her inquiries. As of Wednesday evening, a Facebook page called “Kincaid. Killed by Baltimore City Police” that featured a bloody profile picture of the slain dog had received 3,437 likes. “It wasn’t a stray dog down the street,” she said. “It was our yard.”
Teen who alleged police kidnapping in trouble with law
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
4:35 PM EST, January 2, 2013
A 19-year-old Baltimore man, who three years ago accused three city police officers of abducting him and leaving him in a Howard County park, was cleared of an attempted murder charge Wednesday and given a suspended sentence on drug charges. In May 2009, when he was 15 years old, Michael B. Johnson Jr. was picked up by the officers and left in the rain without shoes or a cell phone at Patapsco Valley State Park. The officers were charged a year later with kidnapping and related charges. Two of the officers fought the charges but were convicted of misconduct in June 2011, while a third was cleared, in a case that was personally tried by State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein. Seven months later, prosecutors charged Johnson and another man, 25-year-old David Ames, with shooting a man on North Avenue. Johnson was also charged with drug possession. Johnson’s attorney, A. Dwight Pettit, confirmed that the attempted-murder charges were placed on the inactive docket by prosecutors, and Johnson pleaded guilty to the drug charge. He was given a 10-year sentence, with all but one year suspended. Pettit said Johnson was incarcerated for a year, and the sentence amounts to time served. He said Ames pleaded guilty to the shooting and that prosecutors “never had any evidence” on Johnson. “He’s had a lot of trouble with police since the civil case was brought, whether its coincidental or what,” Pettit said. “He has no criminal record, and the court indicated that if he can stay out of trouble, the court will give him probation before judgment.” Johnson’s civil lawsuit against the city is scheduled to go to court later this month. Last year, Pettit said the two sides had struck a $150,000 settlement, but the city has refused to pay the settlement.
email@example.com Copyright © 2012,
The Baltimore Sun A year of challenges for city residents
Mayor says city is making progress on resolving problems
12:58 p.m. EST, December 29, 2012
A year ago, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave an inaugural address that was both lofty in vision and grounded in reality — the poetry of growing Baltimore by 10,000 residents in the next decade tempered by the prose of how to get there. “We must focus on the fundamentals and do them well,” the newly elected mayor said, “or face the prospect of trying to do everything — most of it poorly.” But as Rawlings-Blake concludes her first year as elected mayor, having previously served the final two years of her predecessor’s term, her administration has faltered on some of the most basic fundamentals. Water bills arrived in some mailboxes with erroneously exorbitant sums. Property tax bills similarly were miscalculated — state errors the city never caught — with Homestead and other credits going to owners who didn’t qualify for them. And most recently, a Baltimore Sun investigation found that drivers received tickets from speed cameras while traveling below the posted limit or even stopped at a light. Along with a series of massive, traffic-snarling water main breaks, and an expensive dispute over upgrading the municipal phone system, the year 2012 was plagued by what political observer Matthew Crenson called “internal goof-ups.” “When you don’t correct things immediately, it changes people’s perspective on government,” said Crenson, emeritus professor of political science at the Johns Hopkins University. “They become less satisfied with the service they’re getting. In some senses, city government becomes less legitimate. It’s important not just to respond, but to respond fast.” In an interview, Rawlings-Blake acknowledged that the missteps have taken a toll on the public’s confidence in City Hall. She said fixes are under way, but it will take time to resolve problems that in some cases were years in the making. “It frustrates me when we get it wrong,” the mayor said. “So whether it’s a water bill or it’s speed cameras or anything, when we fall short it motivates me to make sure that we get it right. And the frustrating part for me as well is sometimes it takes a long time or longer than I’d like to untangle problems that have lingered.” She called the focus of her administration “reform,” and cited examples of efforts to rein in spending and address existing problems in a city that has lost a third of its population since World War II. “The things we’ve identified as broken that need to be fixed, we’re checking them off,” Rawlings-Blake said. “Whether it’s working with the school system to right-size the school system and create a funding stream for new construction or whether it’s dealing with the fire and police pension — an issue that’s been kicked down the road for years — or a plan to reinvigorate rec centers. … All the things we know need to be fixed, we continued to make progress on those things.” But as the cost of living in the city seems ever on the rise, some residents have grown impatient, if not outright angry. When the water rate goes up by 9 percent every year, for example, shouldn’t the charges at least be accurate, they say. “They were crying poverty, shutting down rec centers and starting the bottle tax,” said Patterson Park resident Matt Gonter, a self-described gadfly who has tracked property tax credits that were granted erroneously. “Why don’t you start collecting the money owed in the first place?” Some join the mayor in counseling patience. “Admittedly, much went wrong this year from the perspective of people who live or work in the city,” said Anirban Basu an economist who runs the Baltimore-based consulting firm, Sage Policy Group. “They were charged excessively for water. They received erroneous tickets, and city infrastructure crumbled. “However, many of these problems were inherited or, at a minimum, were things that the city could do little about,” Basu said. “Many of these issues were not generated this year.” Error-ridden water bills For years, residents have complained about erratic water bills. But the issue grabbed widespread attention in 2012 when the city’s auditor found the Department of Public Works overcharged thousands of customers by at least $9 million. A Sun investigation also uncovered numerous problems, including a $100,000 overbilling of Cockeysville Middle School and a Randallstown woman who’d been receiving her neighbor’s bills for seven years. The errors compounded, tripling sewage bills for customers of the city system who live in Baltimore County, and the city admitted that some workers fictionalized bills. At the same time, The Sun reported, a dozen area businesses, nonprofits and federal government organizations owed the city more than $10.5 million for water bills that were past due by at least six months. The administration pledged a series of reforms, including increasing the number of meter readers, inspectors and customer service representatives. Public works officials say the average waiting time to speak to a customer service representative has been reduced to two minutes from a peak of 24 minutes in February. The city also placed meter readers on permanent routes to ensure consistency in reading, began locating thousands of “hard to find” meters to reduce reliance on estimated bills, and started replacing about 14,000 meters inside buildings with curbside meters that can transmit readings with a wireless system. Meter readers now estimate about 225 readings per day, down from 1,100 two years ago, officials said. We didn’t get into this situation overnight, and I don’t think any reasonable person would think that we could fix it overnight,” Rawlings-Blake said. “But that doesn’t stop the frustration from me and push from me to make sure we’re getting it right.” City Auditor Robert L. McCarty says he’s continuing to monitor the city’s progress in issuing accurate water bills. Activist Linda Stewart, known around Baltimore as “Water Bill Woman,” said there’s still much work to be done to improve the system. “I still see the same thing happening,” she said. “People are still paying water bills for empty lots. They’re still not getting their credits. I still have people writing to me about their bills. I feel helpless. What can I tell them but keep pestering the city?” Water, water everywhere Exorbitant bills were especially infuriating in a year when decades-old water lines cracked underground with alarming regularity, sending gallons of water streaming down streets while disrupting traffic and sometimes gas and electric services. In July, a main broke in the heart of downtown, under Light Street near Lombard, closing off the area for weeks as the city repaired it and replaced nearby lines and valves. In November, a 60-inch main under Charles and 20th streets burst, creating a rushing river down the thoroughfare. In December, two blocks of East Monument Street finally reopened, five months after a 120-year-old storm drain broke and caused the street to collapse. The damage extended beyond the pavement, with businesses in the area losing customers and laying off staff. There were other breaks as well, smaller perhaps but creating havoc of their own, prompting Rawlings-Blake to accelerate the pace at which aging mains are replaced. The city had been replacing about five miles of pipes a year and hopes to increase that to 40 miles a year. To help pay for the work, the city again increased water rates by 9 percent. In February, the mayor testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, arguing that cities need federal dollars to update aging water systems and relieve ratepayers of some of the burden. In an interview, Rawlings-Blake said the crumbling infrastructure ultimately adds to the cost of providing water to the some 1.8 million customers in the region. “Even if we get the water bills right we are, through an aging infrastructure … wasting our resources,” she said. “Because even if the bills are 100 percent accurate 100 percent of the time, at the end of the day, all of the customers are paying for the fact that we have an aging infrastructure.” Property tax fiasco Already paying the highest property tax rate in the state, many city residents were more than a little outraged by a Sun investigation that found fraud and errors in how real estate is assessed and taxed. Million-dollar-plus condos had property tax bills of barely a thousand dollars. Owners of boarded-up houses were getting Homestead tax credits that are supposed to go only to properties they actually live in. And some owners managed to double-dip, getting Homestead credits on their residences plus other properties. Since then, Rawlings-Blake tripled the staff and funding for a program to root out such disparities, and it’s already showing results, according to William Voorhees, the Finance Department’s director of revenue and tax analysis. “The tax system is becoming fairer,” Voorhees said. “We are catching people.” Voorhees said the billing integrity program has found cases of mistakenly authorized property tax credits totaling about $4 million for fiscal 2012. It forwarded that information to the state, which will try to recover the money from owners who should not have received homestead and other credits. That figure may grow, he said, if some of those homeowners erroneously received the credits for previous years as well. The finance department also is working on a way to track major property improvements, to prevent cases in which owners were still being assessed on their homes’ original values, Voorhees said. “We still have a ways to go,” said Gonter, the Patterson Park resident who has been looking at improperly granted homestead credits for several years. But while he still finds mistakes in the system, Gonter said he is pleased at advances such as a new state law that adds a fine of 25 percent for a fraudulently received credit. Voorhees said the city hopes to start developing mechanisms to determine whether there are problems in the collection of other taxes, such as those on hotels, parking and beverage containers. In the end, he said, it comes down to a question of fairness. “We don’t want people paying more taxes than they should legally be paying,” he said. “But we don’t want them to be paying less.” Feud over phones Competing efforts by two city offices to overhaul the city’s aging telephone system sparked a controversy that grabbed headlines throughout the year and continues today as a court battle. Comptroller Joan M. Pratt filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the administration from installing a new phone system using a vendor that Pratt says should have been subjected to a new bidding process. Pratt’s office had supervised a request for bids that led to a proposed contract with IBM. Baltimore’s Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Rawlings-Blake, rejected that contract in July. The city’s inspector general investigated the administration’s purchase of nearly $675,000 in phone and computer equipment — which Rawlings-Blake’s top aides had categorized as a small pilot program — and found possible conflicts of interest and missed opportunities for “significant cost savings.” Inspector General David N. McClintock also found that former members of the mayor’s administration withheld information from other city officials about the project and even lied to the City Council president. The administration later proposed a memorandum of understanding between the two feuding offices that would create a new commission — controlled by the mayor’s staff — to oversee the phone system. Pratt has said she believes the deal is one-sided. The matter remains unresolved, with Pratt accusing the administration of wasting $400,000 a month while refusing for political reasons to replace the phone system. Rawlings-Blake’s technology officer has said he wants to see a reduction of about 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the IBM contract, which called for an estimated $320,000 in travel and relocation costs for IBM workers and tax breaks for out-of-state workers whose home states have lower tax rates. Rawlings-Blake said recently she believes the parties will be able to put aside their differences and upgrade the system. “I’m certain we’ll be able to move forward in partnership with the comptroller’s office,” the mayor said. Speed ticket mistakes As the year came to a close, The Sun published the results of another investigation, this time into the city’s speed camera system. The newspaper found inaccuracies with seven of the city’s 83 automated speed cameras, issuing tickets to vehicles traveling less than 20 miles per hour and to one stopped at a red light. And speed camera contractors in the city, Baltimore County and elsewhere were being paid based on the number of citations issued or paid — a so-called “bounty system” approach that Gov. Martin O’Malley said was illegal. Rawlings-Blake has appointed a task force to study the issue and recommend steps to prevent errors. At the panel’s latest meeting, Baltimore’s speed camera contractor disclosed that several of the city’s automated cameras have an error rate of more than 5 percent. The panel is expected to conclude its meetings in February and issue a report soon after. Ron Ely, the editor of Stop Big Brother Maryland, an anti-speed camera blog, said city officials are “starting to grasp the depth of their problem and are now making a genuine effort to come clean” by investigating the speed cameras. But, he added, he still has concerns about the city’s system, including what he said was an obvious lack of oversight. The mayor points to the progress. “Even some of the harshest critics of the camera system in general have said we’re moving in the right direction,” Rawlings-Blake said. As with other matters, she said, “the concern I expressed with my departments is that we get it right.”
Baltimore Police announce major reshuffling of command staff
7:24 PM EST, December 27, 2012
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts announced Thursday a broad reshuffling of the agency’s command staff, with new leadership for four patrol districts and the homicide unit, as well as the creation of units focused on community relations and gangs. The moves are the most significant yet under Batts, who took over in the fall and asked all commanders to reapply for their jobs. The changes will make the agency “effective, bold, and fast-moving,” while focusing on greater community involvement and intelligence-gathering, which can go hand-in-hand, he said in an interview. “We are putting the people and systems in place to help improve our crime fight and that includes better management of our resources, community engagement, and a continued and targeted focus on guns and gangs — that small group of criminals who wreak havoc on our communities,” Batts said in a statement that accompanied the announcement. The changes include the promotion of Maj. Melvin Russell, commander of the Eastern District, to lieutenant colonel to oversee a new “community policing division” in which he will work with churches, businesses and former inmates re-entering society. “Leadership is only effective through partnership,” Russell said. City Councilman Brandon Scott, vice chair of the council’s public safety committee, applauded Batts’ moves. “Overall, I think it’s great that we’re seeing people move up through the ranks,” he said. Robert F. Cherry, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the city police union, said the agency was “due” for personnel changes, but said additional operational adjustments are needed for the city to make progress. “Although the promotions are garnering the attention now, the key to policing our city is [that] the overall strategy … needs tweaking from [former Commissioner Frederick] Bealefeld’s strategy,” Cherry said in an email. “The FOP is pushing for greater emphasis and resources in patrol and in all neighborhoods of the city, not just the violent neighborhoods.” Taking Russell’s place in the Eastern, the city district with the most homicides and shootings, is Keith Matthews, a 30-year veteran who has worked in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office and internal affairs. Batts said Matthews has a “rich history” with the agency and called him a “stabilizing force.” Taking over the Central District — one of the most challenging districts because it includes the downtown and Inner Harbor area but also high-crime areas such as Pennsylvania Avenue — is Maj. Melissa Hyatt, who was previously second-in-command in the Southeastern District and is considered a rising star in the agency. Hyatt, a 15-year veteran of the department, is the first female commander of the district, officials said. The homicide division will get new leadership with Capt. Stanley Brandford, a 22-year veteran of the agency. Col. Garnell Green, who has overseen the unit for the past year, will move to lead the patrol division, with Col. Dean Palmere taking control of criminal investigations. Some of the leadership changes were necessitated by the recent retirement of two high-ranking commanders. Missing from the department’s new organizational chart is the Violent Crimes Impact Section, which the previous administration promoted as the force behind the city’s recent declines in gun violence. The group has come under criticism from City Council members, who say the plainclothes officers — who work areas that historically have the highest crime rates — are the source of the most citizen complaints. The unit appears to have been largely rebranded — the latest of several different incarnations over the years — and will now be known as the “Special Enforcement” section. It will fall under the patrol division. VCIS units are now deployed in hot spots in East, West, Northwest and Northeast Baltimore. Batts said the zones will be “tightened up” but that the charge of the unit would not change. “The process works well,” he said. “We’re not going to mess with it except have it work closer with patrol majors.” Cherry said the VCIS unit needs more than a rebranding. He noted that police in Washington . recently shut down some of their specialized units and transferred those members back to patrol as crime patterns changed there. “We need to do the same here,” Cherry said. Batts stressed that the agency’s focus will be on building ties with the community. In his new role, Russell hopes to replicate community-building programs that he said helped drive down crime in the Eastern District. Russell, who is also an assistant pastor, began urging business owners who complained about robberies and burglaries to sponsor youth baseball and football teams. Soon, he said, drug dealers whose little brothers were on a team would urge their peers not to harm those businesses — because even they saw the community benefit the businesses were providing. As for churches, Russell started asking some of the 120 congregations in his district to reach out to the “drug house” or the home marked by repeated violence on their blocks. Pastors began to buy in and started “prayer walks” through the neighborhoods. Slowly, perceptions about churches changed, and Russell began deploying prayer walks in some of the city’s most crime-ridden areas. “What you began to see was a transformation in the community,” he said. Russell said Batts wants him to start the same initiatives citywide, as well as focus on working with released or paroled prisoners returning to the community. Russell said Batts wants police to “serve” the community. Four of the nine patrol districts will have new leadership. District commanders are the community’s go-to source for everything going on in neighborhoods. The Northeast District will be commanded by Maj. Richard Worley, with Darryl DeSousa becoming an area commander for the east side of the city. In a previously announced move, the Western District will be led by Maj. Robert Smith — who in 2008 received a six-figure settlement and public apology from the department after being wrongly charged administratively with a sex offense. Scott, the City Council member, said he was happy to see DeSousa and Russell move up. “In particular, Lt. Col. DeSousa and Lt. Col. Russell are two great moves — commanders that are not only well-respected in law enforcement but in the community.” He also called Hyatt’s promotion a “perfect fit.” In other moves, the former Central District commander, Dennis Smith, is being moved to the Criminal Investigations Division, where he will be in charge of district detectives, who investigate nonfatal shootings, stabbings and other serious crimes. Maj. Dan Lioi will assume control of the intelligence unit. Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George contributed to this article.
Troubling Rise in Homicides
Our view: With Killings in Baltimore increasing for the first time in years,
Officials must make restoring progress a priority
4:26 PM EST, December 27, 2012
After five years of progress in reducing or holding virtually stable the number of homicides committed in Baltimore City, 2012 saw a disturbing rise in killings over the previous year. City officials need to ask themselves whether this is merely a statistical blip in an otherwise generally positive trend, or whether it indicates more serious problems ahead. As of today, 215 people have been killed in the city, a 10 percent increase over this time last year. In 2011, the first year since the 1970s with fewer than 200 homicides, officials pointed to the drop as a major victory against crime and a sign that Baltimore was finally on a path to shed its image as one of America’s most dangerous cities. Now that homicides appear to be rising again, the city should be looking hard at ways to preserve the gains it has made in recent years. No one knows for certain why homicides rise in some years and fall in others. Baltimore’s jump in homicides occurred during a year when statistics show that overall violent crime rates (including aggravated assaults and armed robberies) and property crimes were both on the wane. Why killings should increase when other types of crime are falling remains something of a mystery, though there is a school of thought that suggests crime rates, like markets, rise and fall periodically in response to social forces that are difficult to quantify and often impossible to predict. Some social scientists think the state of the economy affects the crime rate, with poverty and lack of education being among the leading causes. That view is far from universal, however, and history provides little evidence of a direct relationship between rates of poverty and crime. Other researchers point to demographics. Since most crimes are committed by young men, they argue, when the proportion of such individuals in a population goes up, crime rates will follow. Still other experts believe the propensity to commit crimes springs from complex patterns of social and familial interactions experienced early in life that exert a lasting influence. Such people will offend throughout their careers regardless of economic conditions or opportunities to engage in legitimate alternatives. Police and prosecutors have little influence or control over such factors. What they can do is aggressively go after those suspected of the most violent offenses in order to protect future victims. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts says that many of the killings this year were driven by disputes over turf between rival drug gangs, and that in such cases it is difficult to find witnesses willing to testify in court. But others have suggested that changes in the procedures prosecutors and police use to charge suspects may have allowed many of them to avoid arrest and imprisonment, leaving them free to remain on the streets and commit more crimes. Earlier this month, The Sun’s Justin Fenton reported that Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein, who campaigned on a pledge to aggressively prosecute violent crime, has charged far fewer homicide cases than his predecessor, Patricia Jessamy, and that police detectives are increasingly frustrated by their inability lock up people they suspect have committed serious offenses. Mr. Fenton detailed one case in which prosecutors originally declined to bring charges against a man accused of a 2011 fatal shooting in Bolton Hill because they felt there wasn’t enough evidence to win a conviction. Prosecutors only changed their minds after he was linked to a second shooting this November that left two men dead and a woman critically injured. Had the suspect been charged earlier, sources told Mr. Fenton, witnesses might have come forward once he was behind bars to strengthen the state’s case without fear of retribution. Taking such suspects off the streets keeps them from intimidating and threatening people in the community and also denies them opportunities to commit additional crimes. Certainly prosecutors should proceed cautiously until they are confident any case they bring is strong enough to win in court, and they must also protect the right of people who may have been falsely accused not to spend weeks or months in jail while their cases work their way through the system. But investigators often can’t begin to turn up all the evidence needed to support a murder charge until after the suspect has been arrested. Police and prosecutors say cooperation between their agencies has never been better, and it is encouraging that Mr. Bernstein recently agreed to charge five cases brought to him by Mr. Batts that detectives considered especially urgent. Keeping the most dangerous offenders off the streets should be the top priority for maintaining Baltimore’s progress against homicides because lives are saved when suspected murderers are arrested and jailed before they kill again. But that can’t happen unless they are charged.
City speed camera ‘nightmare’ among the year’s lows,
AAA says Driver group says problems call program’s integrity into question
4:59 PM EST, December 27, 2012
AAA Mid-Atlantic says Baltimore’s speed camera “nightmare” was one of the transportation lows of 2012, though the driver advocacy group credited a similar program run by the State Highway Administration with helping to improve safety in construction zones. “The troubles with Baltimore’s speed camera system have raised the eyebrows of motorists, legislators and traffic safety advocates and have truly called the integrity of the City’s entire program into question,” AAA spokeswoman Ragina Averella said in a news release Thursday. The city has stopped issuing tickets at 10 of its 83 cameras, because of either erroneous radar readings or questions about the appropriateness of their locations. At the same time, AAA said a highlight of 2012 was a continuing decline in crashes, injuries and deaths in Maryland highway work zones, which have had speed cameras for three years. The state reports a big drop in speeding violations and is on track to issue fewer automated tickets than in 2011. Asked about AAA’s critique, city Department of Transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes said the city takes camera accuracy seriously and will refund 350 tickets that a recent review found were wrong. She pointed out that AAA has a seat on a task force formed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to review the city’s red light and speed camera programs. Averella is on the task force. “The truth is that hundreds of thousands of motorists are speeding in school zones throughout the city, it’s dangerous, and the camera program has [been] shown to reduce speeding,” Barnes said. Baltimore’s lucrative network of radar-equipped cameras was the subject of a Baltimore Sun investigation that found some tickets are incorrect and that District Court judges routinely throw out the $40 citations for a variety of deficiencies. Several state lawmakers plan to introduce reform legislation in the coming General Assembly session. AAA predicted legislators would be busy addressing “the failures and lack of accountability for a program that was supposedly intended as a traffic safety tool, which is now perceived as nothing more than a money grab by many motorists.” The Sun has documented that seven of the city’s speed cameras have clocked vehicles going faster than they were actually traveling, even ticketing one car while it was stopped at a red light. Officials with the city’s speed camera contractor, Xerox State and Local Solutions, recently told the task force that five cameras had been idled after a review found that 5 percent of the tickets they issued had radar-related errors that Xerox staff didn’t catch before the citations were issued. Those five cameras have generated at least 15,000 tickets, city records show, translating to $600,000 in potential fines for motorists. City transportation officials say a fraction of the total, 350 tickets, will be refunded based on the company’s internal audit. The city previously acknowledged issuing nearly 6,000 citations that were later deemed erroneous because cameras were programmed with the incorrect speed limit or location address, or because the equipment malfunctioned, resulting in several hundred thousand dollars in refunds and forgiven fines. In August, the city shut down five other speed cameras after AAA questioned whether their placement near colleges, hospitals and preschools met state guidelines specifying that they be located only near schools serving kindergarten through 12th grade. Xerox and the city maintain that the vast majority of citations are accurate. Xerox, which is also the state’s contractor, says it has bolstered internal reviews to keep the city from mailing out bad citations. Under state law, tickets can be issued to vehicles recorded going at least 12 mph over the speed limit. Next month the city will switch contractors, with Brekford Corp. taking the place of Xerox. Since the speed camera program began in late 2009, the city has issued more than 1.6 million tickets and collected more than $48 million in fines from motorists. Joining the city’s speed camera problems on AAA’s list of 2012 transportation lows were an increase in highway deaths nationwide, high gas prices and a greater reliance on tolls to pay for road work. Along with improved highway work zone safety, AAA said the year’s highlights include a road construction boom in the region and a change in state law requiring children younger than 8 to ride in booster seats until they reach a height of 4 feet 9 inches, regardless of their weight.
State Troopers helping City Police patrol high-crime areas
Move represents new cooperation for agencies that have
previously disagreed about presence in city
December 27, 2012
Baltimore police have enlisted state troopers to help with patrols as the city confronts a spike in crime, a move that puts to an end years of disagreement between the two agencies over the state force’s role in local law enforcement. With the Maryland State Police now led by a former Baltimore police commander, the agencies began talking about the new arrangement over the summer, and new Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts has pushed it forward as part of his plans to get more officers on foot deployments. The program, which began in September, pairs troopers with city officers on Friday and Saturday nights. Though troopers have had a presence in Baltimore for decades as part of various task forces, under state law they can only police the city when invited by the Baltimore police. In Baltimore, political leaders have expressed concern in the past about bringing in an unfamiliar force with its own agenda. The current initiative, both agencies stress, is entirely directed by the city. While political tangles have hampered past efforts at more cooperation, the current effort faces critics who worry about resources being pulled away from rural areas. Many Maryland counties depend on state police, who are the primary law enforcement agency in some jurisdictions, and they work alongside local officers in others. Troopers patrol highways throughout the state. State Sen. David R. Brinkley, a Carroll County Republican, questioned whether the state should be reimbursed for the Baltimore patrols. His county uses a resident trooper program that pays state police to patrol the county, and which state police say they plan to scale back. “The state police have been struggling with a lack of resources, and in many rural communities, they are the primary force,” Brinkley said. “We all have an interest in Baltimore being safe, but in areas where resources are being taken away, where they don’t have a city force, that could be problematic.” House Republican leader Anthony J. O’Donnell, who represents Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, applauded the move. He said he has long thought the state should use “every asset possible” to fight crime in Baltimore. Technically, state police are working in Baltimore as part of an initiative to utilize the state force’s license-plate reader technology. But they end up getting involved in many kinds of patrol work and have even been walking foot beats. “We pick a geographic area and we try to target it to areas experiencing some violence, and look for ways that we can use their tag-reader technology,” said Baltimore’s deputy police commissioner, John Skinner. “They’ve been in Northeast Baltimore, on Greenmount Avenue, in the Southeast District for robberies. We’ll be using them downtown also.” State police Lt. Col. J.A. McAndrew, who began his career as a city officer, pointed to state police deployments for major events or work on a regional task force that serves warrants as examples of earlier cooperation. But he acknowledged that troopers from barracks around the state walking foot beats in Baltimore neighborhoods is a first. “The state police aren’t just wandering around Baltimore,” McAndrew said. “We’re teamed up, riding with Baltimore City police officers on an organized detail plan, to work on specific days on specific times.” He said the agency sends the officers to Baltimore as part of their normal work duties and the state does not seek reimbursement from the city. Officials say the initiative is evidence of broader improved cooperation between state and local authorities. “From the first days of this administration, we have understood that reducing violent crime in our state, including Baltimore City, is a fundamental mission of state government,” Gov. Martin O’Malley, the former mayor, said in an interview. “Only the Baltimore Police Department can enforce the law in Baltimore City, but we can play and are playing an important supporting role.” Edward T. Norris, who led both the city and state police, said he faced resistance when trying to get troopers involved in meaningful ways. They balked at his invitation when he was city commissioner, Norris said, and the city rebuffed his interest as state superintendent to expand the agency’s authority into Baltimore. “It was all political,” he said. Some trace the resistance to a high-profile 1994 raid by state troopers on The Block, in which charges against some defendants were dropped because of questionable police practices. An audit of the operation in Baltimore’s strip club district showed that officers spent $98,000 on liquor and “amusements.” That raid was carried out only after state police received permission to investigate The Block from the city’s acting commissioner. O’Malley cited that raid — “that was not a positive experience in the cause of greater cooperation,” he said — as one of the reasons why troopers weren’t more involved in the city during his tenure. In 2003, Norris wrote to city police offering “immediate help” from state police but asking that troopers be granted full police authority in Baltimore. “The police presence in the city would immediately increase by 5 percent, due to the number of troopers who live there,” he wrote. Baltimore police didn’t want troopers there without supervision, and troopers didn’t want to come in with limited power, according to a report in the Baltimore Examiner during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign. The issue became a subject of debate during the campaign, in which O’Malley was challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. “We would have welcomed the help, provided it was given in a supportive role that is being given today — under the guidance of local law enforcement,” O’Malley said. On a recent Friday night, McAndrew said he rode around the city with Maj. Dennis Smith, the commander of the Baltimore Police Department’s Central District. They responded to a shooting scene in the 1900 block of Park Ave., and made a drug arrest later in the evening, he said. The following night, there was a major police presence around Pennsylvania Avenue, where there has been recent violence. A state police car, with a city officer seated in the passenger seat, idled in the parking lot next to the Avenue Market. Not far away, a Maryland Transportation Authority car sat near a subway station and city officers had cars pulled over up and down Pennsylvania Avenue. The state police complement is not large, only about eight to 10 officers. They’ve assisted city police with 90 calls for service and 20 arrests, made 74 traffic stops and conducted 23 field interviews on two recent weekends, records show. They have also recovered three stolen vehicles. Norris said troopers “get a great education working in Baltimore. What they learn in a year takes 20 years to get somewhere else.” McAndrew said the partnership is a natural fit. “One of the main duties of the state police is to cooperate and coordinate with other law enforcement agencies. We go where the crime fight is needed most,” he said. Del. Keiffer Mitchell, a Baltimore Democrat, said he supports the partnership. “Anything we can do to reduce crime,” Mitchell said. “As long as the city is calling the shots.” In 2002, a bill permitting state troopers to work in the city without an agreement with local police passed the House of Delegates but died in the Senate. An analysis of that bill noted a similar measure had failed in committee in 1996. More recently, in 2007, with the murder rate rising, then-Mayor Sheila Dixon and Commissioner Leonard Hamm announced that Maryland Transportation Authority police would help with traffic patrols in the city, such as the portion of Interstate 295 that is in Baltimore. But state police weren’t a part of that initiative. “If it’s really serious, then their people should jump into cars with our people, then we could always have two-officer police cars,” Paul Blair, then the city police union president, said at the time. That’s what’s taking place now, and McAndrew says there are no plans to end the deployment. “As long as Commissioner Batts wants us down there, we’re going to be helping,” he said. “I can tell you that in the particular zones where we’ve been working, there’s been no violent crime.”
Activists call for charges in man’s police custody death
Anthony Anderson died more than two months ago during a drug arrest
6:34 PM EST, December 17, 2012
Activists gathered in front of a downtown Baltimore courthouse Monday, calling for State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein to bring charges against officers being investigated in the death of an East Baltimore man during an arrest. It has been more than a month since prosecutors were handed the police investigation into the death of 46-year-old Anthony Anderson, who was thrown to the ground during a drug arrest on Sept. 21. Police initially said it was believed Anderson died after ingesting or choking on drugs, but an autopsy ruled that the death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma. His family said they saw him thrown to the ground. Prosecutors must determine whether to bring criminal charges against the officers, Todd A. Strohman, Gregg Boyd and Michael Vodarick. Lawyers for the men have said they did nothing improper. Those who spoke focused much of their frustration on what they called a “double standard” when police are investigated for crimes. “If it were me, it’d be open and shut,” said the Rev. C.D. “Cortly” Witherspoon, who has been speaking out alongside Anderson’s family. “They’d charge first and ask questions later.” Anderson’s mother and son appeared at the rally, where protesters held signs that said “Indict Killer Police.” “This is not fair to us, at all,” said Edith Fletcher, speaking into a bullhorn with sheriff’s deputies wearing bulletproof vests lined up in front of the courthouse. “I watched them kill my son. I saw the whole thing. … Something should be done now.” A spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office said the case remains under investigation. “Our office has been moving forward diligently with these investigations in an effort to be as complete and thorough as possible,” said spokesman Mark Cheshire. “Because every investigation is different, every investigation varies in the amount of time needed to reach a determination.” Decisions in such cases often take months. Bernstein’s office took eight months to decide not to bring charges in the Select Lounge police-involved shooting, while his predecessor took almost a year to the day to bring charges against officers who were accused of kidnapping a teenage boy and leaving him in a state park in Howard County. Two officers were convicted of misconduct in that case, and another was acquitted. But every day that passes without a decision in the Anderson case raises questions, activists said Monday. They also complained about other police-involved shootings in which prosecutors have not decided whether to bring charges. “People are angry in this neighborhood,” she said, referring to Anderson’s, where activists have been canvassing for petition signatures. She said organizers may plan an “occupation” of the state’s attorney’s office if charges aren’t filed.
Defense claims man saw Phylicia Barnes alive in Cecil Co.
In motion, attorneys also attack lead detective in the case
11:02 AM EST, December 19, 2012
Defense attorneys for the man accused of murdering Phylicia Barnes have filed motions claiming to have a witness who saw the teen alive in Cecil County and attacking the credibility of the lead police detective who investigated the case. In a motion filed in Baltimore Circuit Court, defense attorneys for Michael Maurice Johnson say they intend to call an “alibi witness” named Robert Hickman Fields when the case comes to trial in January. Johnson was charged with murder April 25 in the high-profile disappearance of the North Carolina teen. Asked to clarify the filing, defense attorneys Ivan Bates and Russell Neverdon said that Fields saw the 16-year-old Barnes — and not Johnson — in Cecil County in the days after she was reported missing. Fields could not be reached for comment. The attorneys are also asking the court to compel the Baltimore Police Department to turn over internal affairs records related to Daniel T. Nicholson IV, the lead detective in the case. The day before Johnson was charged with murder, Nicholson was suspended by the agency. At the time, law enforcement sources said Nicholson had led a rogue hunt for his own missing teenage daughter. On Tuesday, city prosecutors said the case remained under investigation. The records may “clarify the possible connection between the detective’s suspension and Mr. Johnson’s hasty indictment,” a court filing says, adding that the search for his daughter and the tactics used to investigate Barnes’ disappearance could “show the pattern of misconduct Detective Nicholson uses in cases such as these.” Through an attorney, Nicholson has denied wrongdoing, and the city police union has supported him, saying he did what any concerned father would have done. His attorney, Matthew Fraling, said Nicholson did nothing inappropriate and called the accusations contained in the defense motion “absolutely ludicrous.” In the Barnes case, prosecutors allege that Johnson asphyxiated Barnes, then moved her body by placing it inside a 35-gallon plastic tub. A neighbor, they said in court this summer, saw Johnson sweating and struggling to move a tub out of the apartment of Barnes’ older half-sister. In court papers, his attorneys say Johnson — the last person known to have seen Barnes alive — was interviewed by detectives on Jan. 3, 2011, after being taken in involuntarily. Johnson, his brother Glenton and cousin Kevin Johnson were put in “flex cuffs” and taken by van to the police station, where they were put in separate rooms for interviews and not read their Miranda rights or allowed to call a lawyer, the filings say. Johnson was held for 17 hours, from 6 p.m. Jan. 3 until 11 a.m. the next day, his attorneys say. “Mr. Johnson was kept in handcuffs and chained to the bench he was sitting on,” according to court documents. “The detectives grilled him about the victim and accused him of ‘having a thing for her.’ … There is no recording or transcript of the interview as well as no officer’s notes that were provided in discovery by the state.” In a letter to Johnson’s attorneys, prosecutors confirmed that he was at the homicide offices on Jan. 3. Officials did not respond to a request for comment on the case. The attorneys also claim that Nicholson at one point took Johnson’s vehicle without permission and without a warrant, and eventually returned it to him. “This interaction was only the beginning of Detective Nicholson’s constant and consistent menacing and intimidating behavior towards the [sic] Mr. Johnson.” They say that Nicholson “made numerous phone calls to Mr. Johnson’s work, showed up [at] his job and repeatedly attempted to contact him.” On April 20, 2011, Barnes’ body was found floating in the Susquehanna River. On Sept. 22, 2011, Nicholson was charged in Baltimore County on allegations that he struck his daughter with a coaxial cable, a case that was dropped on condition that the family attend counseling. Attorneys claim that in October and November, prosecutors in Harford County — where Barnes’ body was found — took the case before a grand jury but did not file charges. On April 20, 2012, Nicholson’s daughter ran away from home, and police were investigating whether he improperly used department resources to search for her. Occupants of a Northeast Baltimore home reported to police that several men entered their apartment, and Nicholson was picked out of photo lineups. Police said they took a 911 call for assault at the home. The day after Nicholson was suspended, charges were filed against Johnson. Internal affairs records, the defense attorneys say, “will assist the jury in determining the credibility” of Nicholson and other officers involved in the case. Several motions have been filed since Johnson was charged, including at least two by prosecutors seeking GPS data from two cell phones between Jan. 1, 2010, and July 29, 2010.
Two top Baltimore Police commanders signal intent to retire
3:49 PM EST, December 13, 2012
Two of the Baltimore Police Department’s top commanders have notified the department that they intend to retire, moves that come as Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts prepares to reshape the agency in coming weeks. The commanders are Col. Jesse Oden, the chief of criminal investigations, and Maj. John Hess, who lead the Violent Crimes Impact Section. One of the commanders is Col. Jesse Oden, the chief of criminal investigations, who filed retirement paperwork around the time Batts took over, then was talked into staying. He told superiors this week that he will retire after all, ending a 33-year career. The other is Maj. John Hess, who leads the Violent Crimes Impact Section, which came under criticism from city council members during Batts’ confirmation hearing. Batts stripped away and redeployed some of its resources last month. But the unit was a signiture part of the previous administration’s crime-fighting strategy and officials have pointed to big crime declines in areas where they were deployed. For example, crime was spiking last year in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood last year, but has declined sharply since a VCIS zone was created there. Batts has alluded to coming changes in his command staff, though sources said the departures of Oden and Hess were voluntary. Earlier this year, Deputy Commissioner Anthony Barksdale, who was vying for the top job, left on medical leave.
Signs that U.S. gun violence on rise don’t bear out in Baltimore
11:07 AM EST, December 12, 2012
The Wall Street Journal over the weekend used Baltimore and the world-renowned Maryland Shock Trauma Center as the setting for a story saying hospital statistics show gun violence nationwide was “soaring,” and that a continuing national decline in homicides in spite of this trend was improved trauma care. The article doesn’t go into city-specific data. But at least in Baltimore, those findings go against most every measure of crime available, and indeed Shock Trauma’s own statistics. Citing medical data and other surveys in the U.S., the article said that gun violence is climbing and points to a rising number of serious injuries from assaults with guns and knives. For example, the estimated number of people wounded seriously enough by gunshots to require a hospital stay, rather than treatment and release, rose 47 percent from 20,844 in 2001 to 30,759 in 2011, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “More people in the U.S. are getting shot, but doctors have gotten better at patching them up,” the newspaper reported. Shootings are not counted by police on a national level, largely because they are not required to by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, and are instead counted among overall aggravated assaults. But because of its historically staggering gun violence problem, Baltimore police began breaking out shootings as an internal data subset. In 2000, police say there were 725 non-fatal shooting victims, a number that fell to 381 in 2011. That’s a decline of 47 percent, or a 94 percent difference compared to what the CDC estimates show is taking place at trauma centers across the country. Dr. Thomas Scalea, the physician-in-chief at Shock Trauma, allowed the Journal access to the unit, where 24 people were admitted before the sun rose, including five people shot or stabbed. “Violence down?” Scalea told a reporter. “I don’t think so.” This is not the first time Scalea has been on record questioning whether violence is down. “The violence is getting worse, in my opinion; it’s not getting substantially better,” Scalea said during an appearance on the television show “Square Off.” “The guns on the street are more deadly, and it’s every day for us.” In a short e-mail to a Sun reporter, Scalea said “our numbers … are unchanged.” He was not immediately available for additional comment. But Shock Trauma’s own data don’t appear to support that statement. In fiscal year 2009, which is how the trauma center collects data, there were 414 people from the region treated there for gunshot wounds that were the result of assaults, according to internal demographics reports. That declined to 347 in 2009-2010, and 306 in 2011-2012. That’s a drop of 26 percent. In comparison, during the 2008 to 2011 calendar years, police statistics show total shootings declined 29 percent — within the margin of error of Shock Trauma’s data. The Wall Street Journal also said that the national percentage of people who died after being shot has declined two percentage points since 2007 to 2010, to 13.96 percent. Scalea told the Journal that the mortality rate for gunshot wounds at Shock Trauma is about 4 percent, including the patients who are dead on arrival. In Baltimore, where trauma victims are likely to be taken to Shock Trauma or Johns Hopkins Hospital, police statistics show that of the total number of people shot in 2000, 203 died — about 21 percent. In 2011, 149 homicide victims had been shot, representing 28 percent of all shooting victims. It is important to note that not all shooting victims are taken to the hospital, but the data nevertheless shows an increase. The article’s conclusions that gun violence is up, not down, would especially resonate in Baltimore where residents are deeply distrustful of the sentiment that gun violence is on the decline, often looking to other reasons to explain a decline in homicides, including improvements in trauma care. It was a great frustration of former Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who would jokingly say that critics would attribute crime declines to lunar tables and the tides before crediting police. Dr. Adil H. Haider, co-director of the Howard University-Johns Hopkins University Surgical Outcomes Research Center that performed research for the Journal, said he did not have state-by-state data to analyze trends in Maryland or Baltimore trauma care in comparison to the national data. But as a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s trauma unit, Haider agreed that trauma center activity is “certainly down” over the past six years in Baltimore. “The story is based on a national data set. I wonder if it’s possible that Baltimore may be experiencing a different phenomenon, where gunshots are down but lethal gunshots continue to be right up there,” he said. What explains Scalea’s observations about rising crime? It could be that overall, trauma trends at Shock Trauma appear to show a slight increase in violence-related treatment. Overall referrals for critical injury and illness are up 24 percent, from about 6,900 to 8,600 referrals. While shooting assaults are down, stabbings are up – from 318 in fiscal 2009 to 377 in fiscal 2012. A possible theory that explains why the percentage of people who are shot that die is rising could be a increase in the number of execution-style shootings in Baltimore. The Sun reported in 2010 that though shootings were down, the percentage of people shot in the head had increased significantly, giving rise to a larger proportion of victims with more serious injuries and who are harder to save through medical intervention. Statistics showed that while 35 percent of homicide victims in 2004 had suffered gunshots to the head, that number had increased to 37 percent in 2007, to 53 percent in 2008, and to 59 percent in 2009. However, the trend didn’t continue or hold. In 2010, the number of homicide victims shot in the head fell to 50 percent, and to 47 percent in 2011. But removing Baltimore from the equation, the notion that shootings are “soaring” across the country is difficult to understand. Police statistics show aggravated assaults per capita were down nationwide 16 percent from 2007 to 2011, according to the FBI’s UCR, and down 24 percent from 2001 to 2011. “Did assaults with guns really soar while aggravated assaults overall were dropping?” wrote Kent Scheidegger, the legal director of the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. “I’ll join [critics] in the leery section.” The Bureau of Justice Statistics, which uses a survey of victims to try to account for disparities in police reporting, also shows that aggravated assaults are down 21 percent from 2002 to 2011, with serious violent crime involving weapons down 26 percent during that time frame and serious violent crime involving injury down 10 percent.
Baltimore Police shuffle deck, move more officers into patrol
Each district to eventually have a K-9 unit
3:58 PM EST, November 14, 2012
Seeking to bolster its response to 911 calls, the Baltimore Police Department on Wednesday announced that it is moving more than 40 officers out of specialized units and into patrol districts. Changes had been hinted at since the arrival of Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts, who said he wanted to shift more resources to the patrol division, whose officers respond to most citizen complaints. “Commissioner Batts met with community groups, and visited [district] rolls calls where officers literally asked for more boots on the ground,” said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. “Every meeting, people said they wanted more cops in their districts.” Patrol’s gain is the loss of the Violent Crimes Impact Section, a unit of plainclothes officers focused on guns and drugs, and the Criminal Investigation Division, including some officers assigned to the homicide unit. Guglielmi said K-9 officers will be de-centralized from the special operations section and start working out of districts and be available for most shifts. The unit currently has 17 dogs, Guglielmi said, and the department wants to get more. Robert F. Cherry, the police union president, said the union generally supports the moves and has called for similar changes in a report it produced over the summer. “For the most, those who will disagree are the people being moved,” Cherry said. “We’ve heard for a long time that officers were going out short, and we’ve talked about getting back to basics.” Some officers could elect to challenge the transfers, he said, citing language in the union contract that enables officers to request a hearing if they are being transferred. But Cherry said the number of officers being moved is actually small, and that a larger realignment could be on the horizon if police truly want to shake things up. “It is a change, but it’s not yet the major fundamental change,” Cherry said. “Shootings and homicides have been picking up just a little bit, and I don’t think they’re ready to make the wholesale moves.”
Police suspend officer amid sex misconduct investigation
14-year veteran accused of inappropriate conduct with 18-year-old girl
5:50 PM EST, November 12, 2012
A 39-year-old Baltimore police officer has been suspended amid allegations of sexual misconduct, the city’s police commissioner announced Monday. The officer was identified as Northwestern District patrol officer Elliott Simon, and Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts called the complaint “very serious” and said it has prompted a criminal and internal investigation. Batts stopped short of describing the allegation as relating to an assault, but said that the officer is alleged to have been on-duty and that the complaint involves an 18-year-old girl. The complaint was received over the weekend and immediately investigated, he said. Police did not disclose other details, but a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation said that the alleged victim is a resident of a group home. “When we make mistakes – or alleged mistakes – we will address them, [and] we will be open and transparent as an organization. The concern I do have is that these are just allegations at this point in time,” Batts said. “The officer has a right to a fair investigation, and the citizen who made the allegations has a right to an efficient and well-done investigation.” Simon is a 14-year veteran and has been suspended without pay, officials said. Attempts to reach Simon were not successful. The suspension comes a week after police suspended an officer assigned to the Violent Crimes Impact Section after federal authorities notified police that the officer was under investigation. That officer has not been identified by the agency. Mayor addresses Baltimore police misconduct allegations 7:08 PM EST, November 14, 2012 Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, reacting Wednesday to news of a third city police officer suspended amid a criminal probe within a week, said officials deserve credit for taking action. Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly confirmed that Baltimore Officer Roberto Santiago is being investigated by the county’s Child Advocacy Center, a case that comes on the heels of Officer Elliott Simon’s suspension as police investigate a sexual misconduct accusation involving an 18-year-old woman. And last week, the department suspended a plainclothes officer after being informed that he was under investigation by the FBI. He has not been named. Only Simon’s suspension was announced by the department. “I’m very proud of the prompt action taken by my commissioner,” Rawlings-Blake said at a news conference after Wednesday’s Board of Estimates meeting. “The officers put their lives on the line every single day and deserve to work alongside officers with integrity. … We’re going to continue to root out bad actors in the city. People work too hard for city employees to abuse the city’s trust.” While circumstances surrounding the officer suspensions were largely unclear Wednesday, they come at a time when prosecutors have also recently charged several officers in connection with misconduct investigations. Officials say that they want the public to recognize that they are taking action. Detective Adam Lewellen was charged with perjury and misconduct after prosecutors and internal affairs investigators alleged that he lied on a search warrant to raid a Canton man’s home. Sgt. Marinos Gialamas and Officer Anthony Williams were charged with assault and other charges related to an alleged beating of a man in police custody. Activists are also awaiting word on what prosecutors will do in a case in which an East Baltimore man was killed during a drug arrest. The medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide after he suffered broken bones. Compared to last year, when 50 officers were implicated in a kickback scandal and a veteran officer was charged with dealing drugs from his police station — the latter case led to the ouster of the department’s internal affairs chief — the current cases are unrelated and largely isolated. But Rawlings-Blake said her administration said the agency can’t tolerate any misconduct. She said it was “not my style” to have cases “go for weeks or even years without talking about any incident because you’re hiding it.” The Sun last week reported that nearly two years after 31 officers were implicated in a broad kickback scandal involving a Rosedale body shop, the 14 officers who were suspended but not charged remain suspended with pay. No progress has been made on whether they will face internal charges, a process that in itself can take years to play out. Police say they are waiting on word from prosecutors whether the officers will face criminal charges, a common practice in Maryland. But it’s not written in the law that one process must run its course before the other can begin, experts say, urging the department to move more quickly to address allegations of misconduct. The city police union, meanwhile, issued a report earlier this year that it called a “blueprint for improved policing” that calls for the department to improve background checks and “no longer accept marginal candidates as seen in the various corruption scandals of late.” Robert F. Cherry, the president of the union, says that he believes the agency can afford to have fewer officers if they are better paid and better deployed. He’s pushing for minimum education or military service requirements, and wants the Police Department to reinstate a college tuition reimbursement program.