December 11, 2013 7:21 pm ET
Veteran officers, including front-line commander, leave police unit
You know my background, dear readers. You know that I am a huge supporter of those who wear badges. I just wish that others were as supportive of the “boys in blue” as I am.
Case in point…
The Baltimore County Police Department has one of the most highly trained and professional tactical units in the country. These dedicated professionals are nationally certified by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
With that said, my sources tell me that a captain decided to shake up this highly regarded unit, which has led to some pretty major departures.
Why would such a change take place? None of my sources could answer that. Was there an incident that supported such a drastic change? Nope. Was the unit under public scrutiny for any inappropriate action in carrying out its duties? No again. Was there an internal issue that caused the drastic move? Pardon the language, but damn straight on that last one.
However, to understand how this mess came about, we have to start at the beginning.
According to my sources, this situation all began with a phone call from the Baltimore City PD regarding one of its officers who was involved in a domestic situation where he ultimately shot and killed his girlfriend and then barricaded himself in their house with their son.
The city placed a call to the county’s tactical unit requesting assistance. The tactical supervisor advised the city, and rightfully so, that the request needed to be cleared with his commanding officer. That county supervisor then cleared the urgent request with his commanding officer and was given permission to respond.
Seems pretty standard, right? Keep reading…
When Chief Johnson became aware of this, he questioned why he was not informed of the events. And, if you connect the dots from that line of questioning, you see that the situation deteriorates into the mess we have now, which involves the loss of some veteran and highly skilled tactical officers.
I should add that, from what I was told, there were other issues that ultimately lead to a showdown and an Internal Affairs (IA) investigation (or what I would call a “white wash.”)
The shakeup of the tactical unit came sometime in June, shortly after the city incident in May. The reason given by the tactical commander was “the decline of discipline among the two squads,” which was “not in proportion,” according to sources.
Can anyone tell me what the heck that means? I’ll wait. Nobody? OK, then I am not alone.
Getting back to the story at hand…
We go back to the supervisor that was confronted about why he allegedly did not notify a commanding officer, who then could tell the chief about sending the county’s unit to the city. Suffice to say that, after that confrontation, all hell broke loose. (Again, pardon the language.)
As I further put this puzzle together from the stories coming from various sources, the situation came down to a meeting with a major, who questioned the (now under the gun) supervisor on why he did not notify the commander of his decision to aid the city.
Next, truth be told (and quite frankly it may not have been), this led to that supervisor going to IA (with phone record evidence) to clear his name … and find out who spoke with forked tongue.
My sources said that IA investigated the case and, surprise to all, it was squashed. Imagine that! The IA, in its infinite wisdom (cough), termed the whole deal as a miscommunication.
Read that again. A miscommunication. Ugh…
How in the wide world of sports can you miscommunicate a major incident like that? I prefer to use another term to describe the situation—it’s called CYA. (I think we all know what that means.)
In other words, someone did, according to what I was told, speak with forked tongue in a protective move.
Apparently there was a truthful statement made later, but by then the seeds were already sown.
Thus began the exodus of almost one-third of the tactical unit. Does everyone feel safer?
I didn’t think so.
The bottom line for the supervisor in the middle, so to speak, was the fact that in the tactical business you need to have complete faith in the leadership of the command. When that issue became questionable, it was time to go. Unfortunately, about 90 years’ worth of experienced unit members followed suit.
By the way, it costs a ton of time and money to train a tact member. So the county loses all around.
As a final note, I want to mention that, as is always my policy, I wanted to allow the department to respond. I sent an email (so everything was in writing and on the record) to the Media Relations Unit for a response—a word, fragmented sentence, uttering, or anything.
Here is what I received:
(This area left intentionally blank.)
(“Sounds of Silence” plays.)
I can’t understand why the police department has a Media Relations Unit if it never says anything, but that is just me. I think the public has a right to know when it’s most effective and highly utilized unit is in crisis mode, but apparently not.
As I have said over and over and over, it’s all about leadership and transparency. Still waiting on that one.
And there was no forked tongue in that statement, dear readers. A jaded eye, maybe, but no forked tongue.