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Baltimore City Police

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Legislation authorizing Johns Hopkins University to establish its own police force progressed in the state Senate on Wednesday.

Wikimedia Commons

State lawmakers are set to consider Friday whether Johns Hopkins University should establish its own private police department, an effort that has been met with resistance from university faculty, staff, students, alumni and neighbors.

Rachel Baye

The Maryland General Assembly begins its annual 90-day session Wednesday in Annapolis, and reducing violent crime in Baltimore is at the top of political leaders’ agendas.

Fitzgerald Makes First Public Appearance at City Hall

Nov 27, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore Police Commissioner-designate Joel Fitzgerald made his first public appearance Monday at city hall. Fitzgerald stood alongside Mayor Catherine Pugh answered questions from the media, and WYPR’s Dominique Maria Bonessi spoke to Morning Edition Host Nathan Sterner.

Pugh Names New Police Commissioner

Nov 16, 2018
Fort Worth Police, Fort Worth, Texas

Mayor Catherine Pugh announced the appointment of Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald as Baltimore’s new top cop Friday after a lengthy, secretive search. Fitzgerald arrives with some baggage from his last job.

Word of Fitzgerald’s appointment began leaking Friday afternoon after Pugh penned an op-ed piece to appear in Saturday’s print editions of The Sun. In it, she wrote that Fitzgerald “is best suited to lead the way forward.”

Twitter

The Baltimore police officer shot Wednesday afternoon has died.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis stood with Mayor Catherine Pugh and several doctors in front of the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center Thursday afternoon to announce the death.

Sean Suiter, an 18 year veteran of the force, a former Naval officer, husband, and father of five, succumbed to a single gun shot wound to the head shortly after noon Thursday. 

AP Photo/David Goldman

This month on "Life in the Balance," gangs and street violence in Baltimore is an epidemic. But what happens to those people who want to get out of gangs, what struggles do they meet on the way? We’ll meet Gardnel Carter, a former gang member who’s now helping others to avoid his past mistakes.  We’ll also talk with Media Chief T.J. Smith of the Baltimore City Police about the department’s efforts to stem gang violence, and we’ll hear the remarkable story of a 17 year old boy who’s trying to walk away from his own past with gangs.  The problem is his old associates are not happy about his decision. This hour, the uphill climb out of gang violence, the organizations trying to combat it, and the people whose lives hang in the balance. 

Baltimore Police Officer shoots robber

Oct 16, 2017

A Baltimore police officer shot and killed a shotgun wielding 20-year-old man involved in an armed robbery at a 7-11 early Monday morning.

Police commissioner Kevin Davis said the officer, Kevin Amy, a 17-year veteran assigned to Northeastern District patrol, followed proper police procedure and turned on his body worn camera.

New police training targets mental illness

Oct 2, 2017
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Elizabeth Wexler stands at a chalkboard at the Baltimore City Police Training Academy while 50 cadets look on. She draws a large "T" and asks the class to say what comes to mind when they think of mental health.

Rachel Baye

Following a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning with city and state officials to discuss rising levels of violent crime in Baltimore, Gov. Larry Hogan said his biggest concern is the number of people who are committing multiple violent crimes without serving time.

Tyrone West case settled for $1M

Jul 26, 2017
Justice for Tyrone West Facebook Page

The city and state reached a settlement Wednesday in the lawsuit over the death of Tyrone West during a traffic stop in 2013. West’s children are expected to receive $1 million.

Gun bill hearing gets heated Tuesday

Jul 25, 2017
Dominique Maria Bonessi

At times the hearing on Mayor Catherine Pugh's proposed gun bill got heated. After two and a half hours, two passed amendments, and two failed amendments, the public comment period opened. Protestors immediately interrupted the proceedings that were recessed for five minutes due to the protests. Two protestors were forcibly removed by police and arrested. 

Tough questions asked of consent decree monitor applicants

Jul 7, 2017
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Morning Edition host, Nathan Sterner, talks with City Hall Reporter, Dominique Maria Bonessi, about the competition between 26 law firms vying to be the U.S. Department of Justice consent decree's independent monitors for police accountability. A grassroots coalition, The Campaign for Justice, Safety, and Jobs and Baltimore residents met last night at a townhall meeting at Coppin State University to ask tough questions of the monitor applicants. 

ACLU files lawsuits against gag orders

Jun 29, 2017
Dominique Maria Bonessi

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland announced today it has filed two separate suits to overturn gag orders contained in settlements in police brutality cases.

The suits against Baltimore City and its police department and Salisbury and its police department were filed in federal court and in Baltimore Circuit court.

Susan Goering, ACLU Maryland’s executive director, says settlements that impose gag orders on plaintiffs violate their rights.

Baltimore City Police Department opens museum

May 26, 2017
Mark Dennis, Staff Photographer / Mayor's Office of Communications

With the Baltimore City Police Department under a consent decree to overhaul its operations, Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis, and Mayor Catherine Pugh cut the ribbon on the new Baltimore City Police Museum today.

Crime trends in Baltimore

May 3, 2017
Dominique Maria Bonessi

With just a few weeks before budget hearings at Baltimore City Hall, police officials appeared a public safety meeting Tuesday chaired by Councilman Brandon Scott, to talk about fighting violence in the city. WYPR's Dominique Maria Bonessi was there, and spoke with Nathan Sterner about what happened.

Effort to give mayor control of Baltimore Police is dead

Mar 3, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns

The sponsor of a bill seeking to return control of Baltimore Police back to the city said Friday afternoon he is withdrawing his proposal.

Del. Curt Anderson, a city Democrat, discussed the bill with his colleagues in the city delegation which he chairs.  He cited a three-page opinion from the Attorney General’s Office that said returning control of the police department to the city would be “extremely expensive.”

Pugh on consent decree: We can pay for it

Feb 1, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh told a federal judge Monday morning the city can afford to implement a consent decree aimed at reforming the city police department.

U.S. District Judge James Bredar asked Pugh to attend the first hearing on the decree filed in the court in January.  The decree was the result of an investigation that found Baltimore Police regularly violated the civil rights of citizens.

Flickr Creative Commons // Elvert Barnes

Jake Naquin, a 10th grader at Bard High School Early College in West Baltimore, was waiting at Harford Road and The Alameda for a bus home to Hamilton one day last November when  three teenagers came up to him.

“Basically me and two of my friends were at the stop,” he explained. “They asked us what school we went to.  And we answered. “

So, Jake and his friends, unnerved, headed for another bus stop. They got about half-way there when the same group stopped them and demanded his phone. He says he thought they were joking.

DOJ v. FOP

Jan 13, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

Shortly after the Justice Department and Baltimore City officials announced they’d reached a legal contract to reform the city police department Thursday the police union complained they were left out of the negotiations.

But Friday a DOJ spokesperson contradicted those claims.

Baltimore, Feds agree to consent decree

Jan 12, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

EDITOR'S NOTE: Read the full consent decree below.

Baltimore City and federal officials announced Thursday an agreement that will force the Baltimore Police Department to reform. The decree comes six months after a scathing Justice Department report found that city police routinely violated citizens’ rights; especially of African-Americans.

The consent decree is the product of a civil rights investigation into the police department after the 2015 in-custody death of Freddie Gray.  Gray suffered severe injuries while being transported in a police van.

Details of the consent decree were made public as a news conference was taking place announcing the agreement.

P. Kenneth Burns

Gene Ryan, president of Baltimore City’s police union, planned to respond to comments made recently by Mayor Catherine Pugh and Commissioner Kevin Davis about staffing issues in the department and contract negotiations.

But the union tweeted Sunday evening that the news conference scheduled for Monday will be postponed “due to unforseen (sic) circumstances.”  And that it will be rescheduled.

NTSB joins City investigation into bus crash

Nov 2, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

A team of federal investigators joined Baltimore Police Tuesday in investigating a tragic bus crash in Southwest Baltimore where six died at the scene.

Jennifer Morrison, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said they will be in Baltimore for the rest of the week investigating the crash “with the goal of ultimately determining the cause of the crash and issuing safety recommendations.”

Six killed in city bus crash

Nov 1, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Six people were killed Tuesday morning and at least 10 injured when a school bus hit an MTA bus head-on during rush hour in Southwest Baltimore. City police spokesman T.J. Smith said the accident scene "literally looks like a bomb exploded in the bus," calling the damage "catastrophic."

P. Kenneth Burns

In case you missed it, the Baltimore City Police Department is a state agency.  It has been that way since the 19th century and it might affect the city’s negotiations with the Department of Justice for sweeping police reforms.

FOP warned police about problems four years ago

Aug 26, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

A report issued four years ago by the Baltimore police union expressed the same concerns about zero-tolerance enforcement and training issues as the caustic Justice Department report on the Baltimore Police Department two weeks ago.

In fact, the federal report cited several times a “Blueprint for Improved Policing” published by the city Fraternal Order of Police in 2012.

The chief spokesman for Baltimore police insists that a trial program in which a manned plane with cameras flies over the city and feeds information to law enforcement was not a secret.

Arash Azizzada

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP announced a new legislative agenda last week, following the release of a U.S. Department of Justice report chronicling a system of discrimination in the Baltimore Police Department. Changing police recruitment practices was on the list.

“We will mandate and oversee the recruitment of officers by the Baltimore Police Department and require Baltimore residents, particularly African Americans and women, to be recruited and hired to fill the more than 3,000 officer positions comprising the agency,” state Del. Jill Carter, a Democrat who represents northwest Baltimore, said at the Black Caucus’ press conference.

But even before the report’s release, the Baltimore Police had begun building efforts to recruit from communities that haven’t historically attracted many applicants.

    

Fraser Smith and Andy Green, editorial page editor of the Baltimore Sun, take up former Mayor/Governor Martin O'Malley's defense of "broken windows" policing that was so sharply criticized in the recent Department of Justice report on the Baltimore police department.

The Department of Justice’s 163 page report describes officers and sergeants acting as if they had a blank check to do whatever they wanted in the inner city neighborhoods; using unreasonable force against people who represented little or no threat, making warrantless arrests without probable cause, conducting illegal strip searches, sometimes in public.

Soon the DOJ, the city, the police department, and community leaders will get to work on the court-ordered mandatory consent decree that’s should be finalized November 1.

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