Criminal Justice | WYPR

Criminal Justice

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan took aim on Monday at the job legislators are doing, focusing in particular on efforts to raise the minimum wage and to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on schools.

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

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Dozens of gun-rights advocates testified in Annapolis on Monday on a bill that would ban 3-D printed and other homemade guns that lack serial numbers, what are sometimes referred to as “ghost guns” because they are harder to trace.

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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.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

In the first State of the State address after winning reelection, Gov. Larry Hogan highlighted several of his priorities for the legislative session, including tax cuts and tougher sentences for violent crimes. His agenda was met with both praise and criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

The Baltimore City Police Department is in a state of disrepair - worse than people originally thought, and it will take millions of dollars and years longer than anticipated to fix it, according to the monitor overseeing the reforms.

The department “is a dysfunctional organization, a highly dysfunctional organization,” Kenneth Thompson, the monitor, told the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee Thursday. “Its policies were poor, its staffing is poor, its technology is poor.”

The system for keeping track of simple things like how often officers stop and frisk people is so outdated that it’s backed up for years, he said.

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.”

Police Commissioner Reports Overblown?

Oct 19, 2018
Fort Worth Police

Does Baltimore have a new police commissioner or not? Good question. It seemed like it Friday morning, but things kept shifting all day.

It started Thursday night when the Twitter account, @BmoreProjects, tweeted, "The mayor's pick for Baltimore's next police commissioner #JoelFitzgerald."

A local reporter in Dallas showed the tweet to Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, and asked if Fitzgerald,the Fort Worth chief, was leaving for Baltimore.

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It is illegal for a correctional officer to engage in sexual acts with people in their custody, but most law enforcement officials don’t face the same restriction. State lawmakers are considering legislation that would close that loophole.

Rachel Baye

State lawmakers are considering something billed as the “Comprehensive Crime Bill of 2018.” The legislation was developed in large part as a response to the record levels of violent crime in Baltimore last year, and one of its biggest impacts would be tougher sentences for repeat violent offenders.

The names of police officers involved in court cases have disappeared from Maryland’s online court data base, setting off protests from both journalists and civil liberties groups.

The disappearance stems from little noticed rules changes proffered last year by the standing committee on rules of practice and procedure. It deleted a section that required that the names of police officers and other government officials involved in court cases be available in the online data base, along with office addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses.

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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. 

Police trial board to hear closing arguments in Rice case

Nov 16, 2017

Closing arguments are expected today in the disciplinary trial of Baltimore Police Officer Brian Rice. Lieutenant Rice was the commanding officer during the incident that lead to the death of Freddie Gray in April of 2015. Yesterday, the defense called three witnesses – two of whom we heard from during the disciplinary trial for Officer Caesar Goodson. WYPR City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi tells Nathan Sterner about their testimony, and previews today’s proceedings.

Chris Connelly / WYPR

The agency in charge of Maryland’s juvenile justice system dodged the state’s competitive bidding process by artificially dividing contracts into smaller dollar amounts, according to a state audit released Wednesday. The findings were referred to the state attorney general for investigation.

Goodson trial ends; verdict may not be disclosed

Nov 7, 2017
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Closing arguments were delivered Monday in the administrative trial for Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the van driver in the Freddie Gray case. It's possible the outcome of the hearing will never be known. That's because while police trial boards are open to the public, Maryland law prevents the results of such cases from being released publicly. WYPR's Dominique Maria Bonessi has been following the disciplinary trial and talks about it with Nathan Sterner.

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. 

What is a trial board? What rights do officers have?

Oct 30, 2017

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the van driver in the Freddie Gray case, will go before a Baltimore City Police Department trial board today. Goodson, who was acquitted on criminal charges in the April 2015 incident, faces departmental charges of misconduct.

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.

Outcomes of Freddie Gray trial boards may remain private

Oct 11, 2017
Baltimore Police

Trial boards for three of the five Baltimore police officers involved in the Freddie Gray case are to begin this month in public, but their results may remain private.

The hearings for Sgt. Alicia White, Lt. Brian Rice, and Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. may be open, but City Solicitor Andre Davis says it could be difficult making the outcomes of those hearings public.

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.

Visions: Sandtown Mural & Art Project

Host Nathan Sterner talks to City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi about the Justice Department not finding sufficient evidence in federal criminal charges on the six Baltimore City police officers involved in Freddie Gray Jr.'s death on April 19, 2015. State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, the NAACP, and Maryland Democratic Congressmen all weigh in giving their reactions.


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.

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