"The Baltimore Police Department, or BPD, provides police services to the city of Baltimore, Maryland and was officially established by the Maryland Legislature on March 16, 1845. It is organized into ten districts, nine based on geographical areas and the Public Housing Section, and is responsible for policing 79 square miles of land and 13 square miles of waterways.
The first attempt to establish a police department in Baltimore occurred in 1784, nearly 60 years after the founding of the original town, when a guard force of constables were authorized to enforce town laws and arrest those in violation. In 1845 the current Baltimore Police Department was founded by the state legislature “to provide for a better security for life and property in the City of Baltimore". In 1861, during the U.S. Civil War, the police department was taken over by the federal government and run by the U.S. Military until it was turned back over to the legislature in 1862.
BPD has evolved its crime fighting technology and techniques over the years beginning with the introduction of call boxes in 1855. Other major technological upgrades include the introduction of the Bertillion system in 1896, police radio communications in 1933, a police laboratory in 1950, computerized booking procedures and 911 emergency systems in 1985, the first ever 311 non emergency system and CCTV cameras (like those in the United Kingdom) in 1996, and the CitiStat system in 2000.
As of a 2000 survey published by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2003, BPD is the 8th largest municipal police department in the United States with a total of 3,034 police officers. Comparatively as of the 2000 U.S. census Baltimore ranked as the 17th largest city in the United States with a population of 651,154.
The first BPD officer to die in the line of duty occurred when Sergeant William Jourdan was shot and killed by an unknown gunman during the first city council elections on October 14 1857. Night Watchman George Workner was the first law enforcement officer to be killed in the city when he was stabbed during an escape attempt by nine inmates in the Baltimore Jail on March 14 1808, but his death predates the founding of the department. As of 2006 there have been 118 police officers killed in the line of duty, which is by far the largest total in Maryland. The next largest total belongs to the Maryland State Police, with 39 troopers killed in the line of duty as of 2005.
Baltimore Police Districts.BPD, like many other police departments in the United States, has experienced negative publicity in recent years due to a few high profile corruption and brutality allegations, including the 2005 arrest of Officers William A. King and Antonio L. Murray by the FBI for federal drug conspiracy charges.
Former Commissioner Ed Norris was indicted on three charges by US Attorney Thomas DiBiagio. Two of the counts charged Norris had made illegal personal expenditures from the Baltimore Police Department’s supplemental account. The third count alleged that he had lied on a mortgage application, stating that approximately $9,000 he received from his father was not a gift—as was stated in the loan papers—but a loan. As part of a plea bargain in May 2004, Norris pleaded guilty to the first two counts and was sentenced to six months in federal prison, six months of home detention, and 500 hours of community service, which Judge Dick Bennett said must be served in Baltimore. The plea bargain avoided a possible 30-year sentence on the mortgage fraud charge.
A rash of high profile corruption and brutality allegations have surfaced in late 2005 and early 2006, including the suspensions and arrests of Southwestern District flex squad officers for the alleged rape of a 22 year old woman they had taken into custody for illegal possession of narcotics.
Stories surfaced about flex squad officers planting evidence on citizens. Murder charges were dropped by the city when it was revealed that the gunman was dropped off in rival gang territory after a police interrogation in a squad car. The man was beaten badly and exacted his revenge the next day. The squad's role in the shooting prompted State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy to drop the charges.
Amid all this, intense criticism has surfaced regarding so-called "stop-and-frisk" arrest procedures and their alleged misuse by the BPD. The president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, Lieutenant Paul Blair, has stated that there are arrest quotas at work in the police department which lead to Baltimore's astronomical arrest rate, and to roughly 1/3 of the charges being dismissed by the State's Attorney's office.
Many of these arrests were for "quality of life" violations such as drinking in public, loitering and public urination. Criminal citations have generally been used for these types of offences however, BPD General Orders and State law forbid these being issued to persons not possessing a valid state issued identification. In cases where a defendant does not have the required identification, the officer may make an arrest.
BPD was potrayed in the NBC television series Homicide: Life on the Street which ran for seven seasons and spawned a TV movie. The series is based on the book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon and was produced by Barry Levinson. The HBO original series The Wire also features the department and was created by David Simon. At times, there has also been crossover in stories and characters from Law & Order and Homicide: Life on the Street."
· 1 decade ago