Criminal Justice | WYPR

Criminal Justice

Mayor Fires Batts, Appoints Interim Top Cop

Jul 9, 2015

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts was fired Wednesday afternoon by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The move came hours after a scathing report by the city’s police union criticized Batts’ handling of riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in April, though Rawlings-Blake insisted the firing had nothing to do with the unrest.

Sen. Ben Cardin was in Baltimore yesterday talking up federal legislation he introduced in the wake of the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. Cardin’s so-called BALTIMORE Act, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, is a push to improve police-community relations.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby wants a judge to order a separate trial for two of the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

How Faith Is Shaping Sandtown-Winchester

Jun 29, 2015
Matt Purdy

At one time, there were more than 50 churches in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood in Baltimore. There are now more than 30, which still represents a high concentration of churches in the 72 square block area that Sandtown encompasses. What can and should these churches be doing in this neighborhood, which has long struggled with high unemployment, poverty, addiction, and crime? We explore that question with two pastors who are doing a lot. Pastor Amelia Harris is the co-pastor of the Newborn Community of Faith Church. She has lived and worked in Sandtown with her husband, Elder C. W. Harris, for more than 30 years. Dr. Louis Wilson is here in the studio as well. He came to Sandtown from Chicago in January, accepting the call to lead the New Song Community Church.

A prominent minister orchestrated a rush-hour traffic jam last month to protest plans for a $30 million youth jail in Baltimore. Today we hear from two of Gov. Larry Hogan’s cabinet secretaries about justice and corrections for the state’s juvenile offenders. But first, the Freddie Gray autopsy. According to the Baltimore Sun, the state medical examiner concluded that Gray’s death was the result of a “high energy” impact injury sustained inside the police van. One of the nation’s leading experts in forensic pathology, Dr.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

The death of Baltimore man Freddie Gray was the result of a "high-energy injury" to his spine and was ruled a homicide due to "acts of omission" by police, according to The Baltimore Sun. The newspaper cites a copy of the unreleased autopsy report from the state medical examiner's office.

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency says federal officials have denied the state's request for a disaster declaration stemming from civil unrest in Baltimore after the police-involved death of Freddie Gray.

Spokesman Chas Eby told The Associated Press in an email Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent Maryland an initial denial of a request the state submitted last month. Such denials can be appealed.

A disaster declaration would allow public agencies or individuals, or both, to seek reimbursement for disaster-related costs.

Baltimore Photographer Devin Allen

Jun 24, 2015
Courtesy of Time Magazine

Two months ago, you would probably have characterized twenty-six year old Catonsville resident Devin Allen as an aspiring photographer. While holding down a gig working with autistic people from midnight to 8 a.m., he was squeezing in as much street and fashion photography as he could. He’d only started shooting two years ago.

Allen grew up in West Baltimore, and when the protests started after Freddie Gray’s death, he felt compelled to pick up his camera and hit the streets. He put his photographs on Instagram. Then TIME Magazine put one of those photos on their cover. Overnight, Devin Allen’s life changed. He’s here with Sheilah in the studio to talk about it.

FBI Director James Comey says officers must work to bridge a gap with the communities they protect.

The Maryland Historical Society has unveiled a new website that features photographs, videos and oral histories from the recent civil unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray.

The website,, is a collaborative effort between the historical society and faculty from the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

The head of a Korean business association has accused Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of prejudice as she butts heads with Governor Larry Hogan over whether recovery loans should go to certain liquor stores damaged during riots after Freddie Gray’s death in April.

Programming Note: Today, we start a police reform series called, "On The Watch: Fixing The Fractured Relationship Between Baltimore's Police And Its Communities".  The series will run for the next twelve months.  Please email the reporter at with any comments or suggestions.

Crime in Baltimore is up, but police presence is down, residents say.  Arrests have plummeted, open air drug markets operate freely and since May 1, six homicide victims were under 18.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski was in Sandtown Monday to talk with clergy about criminal justice reforms at the federal level, and discussed measures being considered in the Senate aimed at strengthening police-community relations.

Mikulski is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations committee.  That committee gave approval last week to a spending bill that includes initiatives Mikulski thinks can improve policing. She said the protests following the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custodies put light to a problem that exists in communities across the nation.

Midday Friday

Jun 12, 2015

Midday producer Melody Simmons visits two of the Baltimore neighborhoods, where last week's shootings occurred. And speaking of gun violence, Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, shares some encouraging news for Baltimore and Maryland about the impact of a handgun law in Connecticut. Rick Seltzer of the Baltimore Business Journal has an update on business recovery since the April 27 riot.

bionicteaching / Flickr / Creative Commons

As Baltimore reeled from a surge in homicides since April, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts insisted police are focused, and fighting. He said last week at a press conference that the spike in shootings was driven by 175,000 doses of prescription drugs looted from pharmacies during the rioting: "Criminals are selling those stolen drugs, there are turf wars happening which are leading to violence and shootings in our city. We have established a task force with our federal counterparts to bring state and federal charges against individuals who committed crimes, harmed our officers, and broke and looted our businesses in our city."

So far in June, at least 13 more people have died in homicides in Baltimore. We all want to understand the forces at work behind the onslaught of violence, and what could stop it. Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis joins Sheilah now to talk about it.

A workgroup made up of Maryland lawmakers met today in Annapolis to start exploring potential policing and accountability reforms that can be done at the state level. It was a largely organizational meeting, but advocates ranging from the ACLU and the NAACP to Amnesty International and CASA de Maryland used the date as a chance to make it clear that advocates are ready to put pressure on lawmakers to make change happen.

The General Assembly's leadership convened the workgroup on public safety after protests against police use of force erupted across Baltimore following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries sustained while in police custody.

Baltimore & The War On Drugs

Jun 8, 2015

A look at O'Malley-era zero-tolerance policing and the drug war, and their effect on the relationship between police and people in Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods. Guest: Neill Franklin, a 34-year veteran of the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police Department, now executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

Midday Friday

Jun 5, 2015

In this hour, a look at legal wrangling in the case of the ‪#‎FreddieGraySix with Prof. David Gray of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Plus: Rona Kobell of the Chesapeake Bay Journal on Gov. Hogan's shakeup of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Our weekly business report comes from Rick Seltzer of the Baltimore Business Journal.

Matt Purdy

Amid a spike in homicides since the Baltimore riots in April, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake earlier this week pointed to a bright spot in efforts to reduce violence in the city: Safe Streets, an effort of the Baltimore City Health Department which hires mostly ex-offenders to stop violence in four Baltimore neighborhoods. It claims in reducing homicides in those areas. The Cherry Hill site where Safe Streets works hasn’t had a fatal shooting in a year.

We wanted to understand what Safe Streets’ interrupters are doing right and whether it could bring peace to gun-ravaged areas of the city. We sit down with Greg Marshburn, an Outreach Supervisor for Safe Streets at its Mondawmin site in West Baltimore, and Dante Barksdale, an Outreach Coordinator for Safe Streets, to talk about stopping violence in Baltimore.

Baltimore’s police union announced Wednesday that it is launching a review of the police department’s actions in the days following Freddie Gray’s death from injuries sustained while in police custody.

Lt. Gene Ryan, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, said more than 160 officers were injured during the riots after Gray’s funeral last month. He wants to clear up questions about what orders were given so that police officers will be safe should a similar situation arise in the future.  

In a little less than a month, the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray will be arraigned in Baltimore Circuit Court. There are a number of questions outstanding in this case –more will crop up as more details emerge – but some big ones have already developed.

City Combats Violence Fueled By Stolen Drugs From Riots

Jun 4, 2015

Federal and Baltimore law enforcement officials say enough drugs were looted from pharmacies in the riots in late April to keep the city high for a year.  And they are still counting.

The LAPD In The Wake Of Rodney King

Jun 2, 2015

What reforms did the Los Angeles Police Department enact after the Rodney King beating and riots of 1992? Did these reforms manage to decrease complaints of police brutality? We’ll hear from Joe Domanick, associate director of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and author of the forthcoming book, “Blue: The LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing,” on how the LAPD has changed and what the Baltimore police department may be able to glean from their choices.

Helping People Get And Keep A Job

May 29, 2015

One of the issues raised in the wake of riots after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody was the lack of jobs in his neighborhood.  More than a quarter of the adults there are out of work.

But it's not just a lack of jobs that's the problem; it's making sure people who get past the interview can hold the job down.

Kelly Little, former executive director of the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation, said a company approached his organization in April wanting to hire people from the community.

Baltimore in Crisis

May 28, 2015

Homicides in Baltimore have hit a record high, 38 murders; the highest monthly total since 1999. As the spike in violent crime continues, we hear from Kevin Shird, a former drug dealer turned youth advocate, and Wes Moore, the author of the bestseller "The Other Wes Moore," and an Army veteran and former White House aide, on how Baltimore communities can reach young people.

Until last month, part of the narrative surrounding Martin O’Malley was that he was the generally successful mayor of a big city; a mayor whose so-called ‘zero-tolerance’ or ‘broken windows’ approach to policing led to an overall drop in murders.

Then the riots happened.

Towson University assistant professor of political science John Bullock says that tough-on-crime approach under O’Malley damaged the relationship between some residents and police.

Local foundations and the federal government have promised to funnel money into Baltimore for job training programs to respond to some of the communities’ needs articulated during the weeks or protests after the death of Freddie Gray. But what happens when the jobs don’t materialize?

For the first time since the city's unrest on April 27, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts talked openly yesterday about the situation his department faces as they try to re-build relationships with the community. He said it's a time of uncertainty for the city.

All six officers charged in the Freddie Gray case have been indicted by the city’s grand jury, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn said at a press conference on Thursday.

She also announced that reckless endangerment charges were added against each of the officers.

“Additional information has been discovered and as is often the case during an ongoing investigation, charges can and should be revised based upon the evidence,” Mosby said.

Midday Friday

May 22, 2015

Yesterday, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that a grand jury has indicted all six officers involved in the police custody death of Freddie Gray. In this hour, we’ll hear from University of Maryland law professor David Gray on how the charges have changed and how the case is expected to proceed. We’ll also talk about how the city’s small businesses community is recovering from last month’s unrest with Joanna Sullivan of the Baltimore Business Journal. And Rev.