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FOP Calls for McKenstry's Resignation from Civilian Oversight Task Force

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore Police Union President Gene Ryan called Wednesday for the resignation of Marvin McKenstry from the panel overseeing civilian review of the police department under the city’s consent decree. That’s a tougher stance than taken previously.

Last week, Ryan called on Mayor Catherine Pugh to “reconsider” McKenstry’s appointment as chair of the Civilian Oversight Task Force. In a Wednesday afternoon news conference he said the fact that other members of the task force did not directly ask for McKenstry’s resignation, “throws shade on their mission” to oversee the consent decree.

“It is not enough that he was only replaced as chair of the taskforce,” said Ryan. “His apologies are not enough especially when accompanied by dishonesty.”

In April, McKenstry was involved in a tense confrontation with a Baltimore police officer that was captured on body camera video. The Baltimore Sun obtained that video through a Public Information Act request and published it last Friday.

Pugh, who appointed the task force last June, said Wednesday she is reconsidering McKenstry’s appointment.

“When a police officer asks you to pull over you should pull over. And that is not the example we want to set in Baltimore—for Baltimoreans,” said Pugh. “And he has a responsibility to a task force and should realize that that is an issue.”

McKenstry was stopped by Sgt. Terrence McGowan while he was double parked in the 200 block of Aisquith Street.

During the traffic stop McKenstry refused at least 60 times to show McGowan his license and registration, insisted the stop was unlawful and asked a fellow task force member he was dropping off to call Ed Jackson, the police department’s inspector general, and former member of the task force.

During the nearly hour-long confrontation, McGowan asked repeatedly for McKenstry's license and registration. McKenstry eventually produced his license, but not the registration. McGowan wrote five citations for about $500 in fines.

Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said McGowan did everything by the book.

“Oh, the officer did a good job. The office did a good job,” he said.

On Tuesday McKenstry apologized for his actions during the traffic stop.

“There is another course of action I could have taken, and I would be less than a man, less than a leader to suggest that if I was in the same exact situation I would do the same exact thing again. I wouldn’t,” said McKenstry.

In his statement Wednesday, Gene Ryan said, the incident with McKenstry has prompted the union to push back even more on having civilians on internal disciplinary trial boards.

“Marvin McKenstry has become a self-appointed poster child for all that is wrong with allowing civilians to determine the fate of police officers,” said Ryan.

Pugh and City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby have lobbied for years in Annapolis to place civilians on police trial boards.

Ryan also criticized a white member of the task force who said earlier this week that things would have gone differently if McKenstry were white.

“You are wrong,” said Ryan. “Our membership are tasked with enforcing the law no matter the race of the law breaker.”

When pushed on the city’s history of zero tolerance policing, which led to the mass incarceration of black people, Ryan insisted zero tolerance "wasn’t aimed towards any race."

"It was aimed towards the more violent parts of town,” said Ryan. “You know our problem areas our target areas.”

McKenstry could not be reached Wednesday for comment.