Baltimore County Police Department ignores Post’s requests for information
Posted by Buzz Beeler @BeelerBuzz on 10th May 2021
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The Baltimore County Police Department was supposed to improve its transparency under county executive Johnny O. Instead, The Baltimore Post has learned that the level of transparency relates directly to what information is sought … and whether the ‘powers that be’ want that information to be released. (Photo Credit: The Baltimore Sun)

Well, that honeymoon didn’t last long, did it?

A few weeks ago, we commended the Baltimore County Police Department public information office for getting us information in a timely fashion about the tragic industrial accident at TPA. (Publisher’s Note: We definitely are not done writing about that, folks. Stay tuned.)

We were pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness to our inquiry. Our previous experience when requesting information from Baltimore County officials was:

Step 1: Call and/or email

Step 2: Be ignored

Step 3: File a PIA request

Step 4: Repeat step 2

It was a vicious cycle that showed an utter disdain for The Post and our mission to uncover facts and report the truth.

The difference, we figured, was the new Director of Public Affairs, Joy Lepola-Stewart. The long-time FOX 45 news reporter, joined the police department earlier this year—a move we thought would be good for all media outlets since she was once on our side of the fence.

That certainly seemed to be the case last month. Our editor sent questions, and Joy worked with her staff to make sure those questions were answered. She even followed up to ask if we received everything we needed.

It seemed like things were headed in a positive direction.

Then we started asking tougher questions, which apparently caused the relationship to sour.

The first signs of trouble came when we asked about a tip we received regarding some personnel shakeups at the police academy. We wanted to confirm the information we’d been given about the dismissals and related claims of improper acts.

The response we got was as close to a non-response as possible. The information Ms. Lepola-Stewart gave did not answer our questions or even pertain to the scenario we provided in our original request. And it took several days to get the information, with an explanation of a “family situation” causing the delay.

That happens, so we didn’t think too much about it.

Then it got worse.

Last week, we received a tip about the human remains found in Dundalk. We were told by reliable sources what was found, in what condition it was found, and what the suspected overarching cause was. As always, we did our due diligence and reached out to the BCPD public information team to check our facts.

In return, we got … silence.

The ‘good old days’ had returned, folks. Our requests were promptly ignored just like in the past.

This leads us to ponder exactly what happened. Were the ‘powers-that-be’ upset that we were inquiring about information that they wanted suppressed? Were they upset because we were going places the rest of the media outlets refused to go?

Or did the county intervene and tell Ms. Lepola-Stewart that The Post is considered ‘the enemy’ and shouldn’t be given any information?

Sadly, we will never know because nobody is willing to tell us the truth.

Again, so much for Johnny O’s promise of transparency. As we suspected, that is a false promise that will be backed up by a few empty gestures to make it appear as though there is nothing to hide.

If you need proof that Baltimore County continues to be as transparent as mud, just ask the family and friends of Timmy Lee Bates.

If you’re looking for information about his tragic untimely and avoidable death at TPA, other than what The Post has been reporting, you’ll need to look under the proverbial rug where everything has been swept.

 

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