County Executive Kamenetz Petitions for a Writ of Certiori in Retiree Subsidy Case

Over 400 police retirees will have to wait longer to receive their court ordered refund for health care premiums that Baltimore County over charged them since 2007.  On January 30, 2015 Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiori with the Maryland Court of Appeals.

This case started as a grievance in 2007 which the Fraternal Order of Police filed and won at arbitration.  The county then appealed the case to Baltimore County Circuit Court, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and finally the Maryland Court of Appeals.  The Courts have continually ruled in favor of the FOP and the retirees.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz then disputed the amount owed to the retirees.  In early 2014 the County requested a hearing to contest the damages and as a result of the hearing the Court awarded the retirees $1,801,479.54 in damages and interest as well as directing the County to restore the effected retirees to the correct subsidy rate.

When the County did not follow the directions of the Court a Petition for Contempt was filed against County Executive Kamenetz, Administrative Officer Fred Homan and Budget Director Keith Dorsey and they were directed to appear in Court and Show Cause as to why the order of the Court was not followed.  The County the acquiesced and did as the Court ordered.

The County then filed 3 separate appeals to the Court of Special Appeals challenging the orders of the Circuit Court which were consolidated and heard in November 2014.  On December 17, 2014 the Court of Special Appeals denied all three appeals in a 78 page decision.  Now the County is seeking an appeal to Maryland’s highest Court.

The FOP has held the money in escrow since receiving payment from the County and was preparing to distribute it to the effected retirees had the County not filed this latest appeal by the deadline of February 2, 2015.  Since this case has started, ten retirees owed reimbursement have passed away.

Every Court decision since the inception of this case can be found on our website under FOP NEWS LINKS.

Read Petition

“Fallen Hero” Anniversary Date: Sergeant Bruce A. Prothero

This is a reminder of the anniversary date of the line-of-duty-death of Bruce A. Prothero on Saturday, February 7, 2015.

On February 7, 2000, Sergeant Bruce Prothero, a married father of five, was working part time as a security guard at a jewelry store on Reisterstown Road when four armed men robbed the store. When Sergeant Prothero followed the robbers out of the store, he was shot twice and died an hour later as a result of his wounds.

Under Departmental regulations Memorial Ribbon Bars may be worn on the uniform, above all other ribbons above the badge, on the anniversary dates of Baltimore County police officers killed-in-the-line-of-duty.

Members are encouraged to honor and remember Bruce A. Prothero by wearing their Memorial Ribbon Bars on February 7th of each year.

Baltimore County police fatally shoot man armed with knife in Randallstown

Baltimore County police shot and killed a man who they said threatened officers with a knife and refused to drop it even after being shocked with a Taser outside a Randallstown convenience store early Saturday.

Police identified the man as Edward Donnell Bright Sr., 56, of the 9900 block of Southall Road in Randallstown. Attempts to reach Bright’s family Saturday were unsuccessful.

Officers were called just after 2 a.m. to the 7-Eleven in the 9800 block of Liberty Road for a report of a man with a knife, police said. The two officers saw Bright holding the knife outside the store and ordered him to drop it, police said.

He refused to do so, and instead approached the officers with the knife, prompting one of the officers to use a Taser on him, police said. When Bright continued to approach, both officers shot him, police said.

Bright was taken to Sinai Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, police said.

Neither officer was injured, and both have been placed on administrative leave pending a full investigation by the Baltimore County police homicide unit and the Baltimore County state’s attorney’s office.

It was the first fatal police-involved shooting in Baltimore County since early last year. In March 2014, during a similar situation in Parkville, police shot 21-year-old Ryan Charles Deitrich, who charged at them with a knife in the 8600 block of Oakleigh Road.

Baltimore County police have delayed a $108,000 plan to outfit their 54 Tasers with video- and audio-recording cameras, amid questions about the legality of recording audio of people’s interactions with officers, the department said. Maryland is a “two-party consent state,” in which both parties need to agree before audio communication can be recorded, a spokeswoman said.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has said he would seek a bill to authorize police to record audio when using Taser cameras.

Taser cameras delayed for Baltimore County police

Plans to put cameras on Baltimore County police Tasers have been delayed as officials study legal issues surrounding the devices.

In December, Police Chief Jim Johnson said a pilot program using battery-operated cameras on Tasers would start within 30 days. But since then, questions about the legality of recording audio of people’s interactions with police have led the department to delay the launch, police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said.

Maryland is a “two-party consent state,” in which both parties need to agree before audio communication can be recorded, Armacost said. Officials are seeking clarification on how that would affect officers’ ability to use the Taser cameras, which record both video and audio.

At a meeting in Annapolis last week, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz told state lawmakers from the county that he would seek a bill to authorize police to record audio when using Taser cameras.

Armacost said the county had already ordered the cameras, but canceled delivery because of the legal questions.

“We cannot begin a program until we resolve that issue,” she said. “We did not want to take possession of cameras with audio.”

The Taser camera program will likely be ready in the spring, officials said. Once the legal issues are resolved, the department will need to develop operating procedures and train officers to use them, Armacost said. Officials have said it will cost about $108,000 to equip the department’s 54 Tasers with cameras.

One police union leader said the delay in the Taser camera program was not a surprise.

“It’s not as easy as, ‘Here’s a camera on a Taser, turn it on and let it go,’ ” said David Rose, second vice president for the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4. “There’s a whole lot of implications. … You want to try to get it right the first time as much as you can.”

Rose said the union is waiting to see the department policy on Taser cameras, and has not yet taken an official stance on them.

The department has faced criticism in the past from people who have alleged that officers inappropriately used Tasers.

The county also is considering outfitting police officers with body cameras. As part of the Taser camera announcement in December, Kamenetz said he had directed Johnson to lead a 90-day study of whether the department should have officers wear body cameras.

That group has been meeting weekly and is exploring a number of topics, such as privacy and data storage, Armacost said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

Fallen Hero Anniversary: Sergeant Mark Parry

This is a reminder of the anniversary date of the line-of-duty death of sergeant mark parry, on January 21, 2002.

On December 27, 2001 Sergeant Mark Parry was on patrol in Towson when a drunk driver struck his unmarked police vehicle. The driver fled the scene and was arrested a short distance away. Sergeant Parry died on January 21, 2002 from injuries he sustained in that motor vehicle accident.

Under departmental regulations memorial ribbon bars will be worn on the uniform, above all other ribbons above the badge, or mourning bands will be worn on the badge on the anniversary dates of Baltimore county police officers killed in the line-of-duty.



• Two landmark Supreme Court decisions: Garrity v. New Jersey (1967) and Gardner v. Broderick (1968), identified a need to create uniform level of due process for Law enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing

• This need for a uniform level of procedural protections and the gravity of the potential harm to officers was recognized by the Maryland General Assembly who, in 1974 enacted The Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR)

• The LEOBR is intended to protect law enforcement officers from unreasonable investigation and persecution caused by the extraordinary circumstances often faced in the official performance of their duties

• Inherent in police work is the conflict between police and persons being arrested, who may make unwarranted complaints out of dislike for the police and/or to use as a bargaining chip for criminal charges against them. This unique situation underscores the need for fair and thorough investigations of such complaints.

• The LEOBR applies to law enforcement officers who are authorized to make arrests and are a member of a majority of Maryland’s law enforcement agencies

• The LEOBR does not apply to a law enforcement officer who is in a probationary status on initial entry into the law enforcement agency except if an allegation of brutality in the performance of the officer’s duties

• The LEOBR also states that it does not limit the authority of the Chief to regulate the competent and efficient operation and management of a law enforcement agency by any means including transfer and reassignment

• The LEOBR grants procedural rights to law enforcement officers during disciplinary investigations, interrogations and hearings that could lead to disciplinary action, demotion or dismissal

• The fact that law enforcement agencies must investigate numerous complaints against police officers underscores the importance of having provisions concerning internal affairs investigations in the LEOBR

• The LEOBR protects law enforcement officers from being summarily dismissed from their jobs without explanation due to administrative or political expediency without due process

• The LEOBR establishes an effective means for the receipt, review and investigation of public complaints against law enforcement officers that is fair and equitable to all

• While some provisions of the LEOBR may appear accommodating to law enforcement officers, they are offset by provisions that are accommodating to management: 1) the chief’s selection of all hearing board members; 2) the chief’s authority to overrule the hearing board’s recommendation regarding punishment (This may be bargained with the Chief at the local level and has in 2 jurisdictions)

• The LEOBR does not protect the jobs of bad cops or officers who are unfit for duty.

• The LEOBR does not afford law enforcement officers any greater rights than those possessed by other citizens; it simply reaffirms the existence of those rights in the unique context of the law enforcement community

Showdown looms over law protecting police in misconduct cases

By Mark Puente The Baltimore Sun

January 3, 2015

As the General Assembly prepares for its 2015 session, a showdown is looming over efforts to limit legal protections for police officers accused of brutality and other misconduct.

As police actions are scrutinized nationwide, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and several members of Baltimore’s legislative delegation say changes are needed to handle rogue officers in the Police Department. The officials have called attention to a state law that governs the disciplinary options of police leaders — prohibiting, for example, a suspension without pay unless an officer is charged with a felony.

“Everyone else that does wrong is put in a position to be held accountable immediately,” Rawlings-Blake said. “Officers aren’t subject to those things.”

But any revision to Maryland’s decades-old police Bill of Rights would need to overcome powerful lobbying efforts from law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents about 22,000 officers in Maryland. The last significant change to the law occurred more than 10 years ago.

“The [law] is working as it should,” said Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore, president of the Maryland Sheriff’s Association. “There are no statewide problems with the [law] as it is currently written.”

Larry Harmel, executive director of the state Chiefs of Police Association, said police leaders outside Baltimore are not seeking changes to the law. He declined to speculate on potential legislative moves but said “obviously there’s a concern” within the organization, adding: “Our antennas are up.”

The increased scrutiny of the law follows a six-month Baltimore Sun investigation that revealed the city has paid $5.7 million since 2011 for 102 court judgments and settlements in lawsuits alleging police misconduct. The victims of the alleged beatings ranged from teenagers to octogenarians, and in almost every case, criminal charges were dropped against them.

In early October, Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts unveiled a sweeping plan, called Preventing Harm, to reduce brutality, including the possibility of equipping officers with body cameras. They reiterated that they are committed to restoring public trust in the department, and the mayor criticized the police Bill of Rights, saying that Batts needs wider authority to discipline officers.

The law mandates that disciplinary actions against police go through a three-person trial board, which makes decisions based on the preponderance of the evidence. The law affords officers 10 days to get an attorney before they can be interrogated by superiors in internal investigations. And in an attempt to avert frivolous claims, the law states that an officer cannot be investigated on a brutality accusation unless it is made within 90 days of the alleged incident. That does not stop agencies from investigating complaints if they learn about them from other sources.

Rawlings-Blake said recently that she would lead the charge for changes if solutions could be found to better investigate and prosecute problem officers. She said she wasn’t ready to discuss specifics but stressed her commitment to doing something to “hold bad cops accountable.”

The city Police Department has instituted a host of reforms in the past two years, including toughening the trial boards and forming a team to scrutinize incidents in which an officer uses force. Discipline cases are also moving faster within the department.

But Rawlings-Blake said further changes are needed. Lawmakers, she said, should consider reforms amid the national uproar over white police officers in Missouri and New York being cleared in the deaths of unarmed black men. Those grand jury exonerations triggered protests from Baltimore to Berkeley, Calif.

“It’s critically important if we are going to continue building trust between the community and police,” Rawlings-Blake said.

In November, Baltimore Dels. Jill P. Carter and Curtis Anderson held a public hearing to gather input from more than 100 residents about potential changes to put before the 2015 General Assembly, which convenes Jan. 14. Dozens of residents urged lawmakers to make the police Bill of Rights less protective of officers and to give civilian review boards power to investigate complaints.

Anderson favors changes that would make public any discipline an officer receives for misconduct — information now shielded by state law. He also wants the law to strengthen Baltimore’s civilian review board.

He said he understands the concerns from law enforcement groups and stressed that he isn’t looking to revamp the entire police Bill of Rights. “We’re going to go forward with this to explore the changes that need to be made.”

Carter has unsuccessfully proposed several bills in recent years to change the law, including one that would have forced police to post all disciplined officers’ names online along with their infractions. Another would have eliminated the 10-day waiting period before an officer can be interrogated.

She acknowledged that it is an uphill battle to change the law, but said police misconduct occurs statewide.

“It’s disingenuous and insulting to think there aren’t problems across the state,” she said. “It’s a statewide issue.”

Maryland’s law, enacted in 1974, “appears to accommodate officers more than any other state,” except possibly Rhode Island, according to a 1999 University of Maryland study.

Still, “the fact that police agencies must investigate numerous complaints against police officers underscores the importance of having extensive provisions concerning internal investigations” in the law, the study concluded.

Supporters of the law believe changes could lead to other problems, such as public officials firing officers for political reasons or “emotional firings” after high-profile incidents — not necessarily because an officer did something wrong.

Del. John Cluster Jr., a Baltimore County Republican who spent 15 years as a police officer and sergeant in the county, said he will fight efforts to change the law. “It’s a few bad apples that have caused this whole thing to become an issue.”

The law gives police leaders full authority to fire officers, Cluster said. He pointed to the firing in 2011 of a Baltimore officer who was caught on video berating and pushing a 14-year-old skateboarder at the Inner Harbor and failed to document the incident in a report.

A three-member trial board found the 19-year veteran not guilty of the most serious administrative charges of using excessive force and language, but found him guilty of failing to write a report and fill out a citizen-contact form. The panel recommended that he be suspended for six days and lose six days of leave.

But then-Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III rejected the recommendation and fired the officer. He had the authority to escalate punishment as long as he stayed within guidelines. The infraction of failing to write a report gave him the widest discretion — from no punishment to termination.

The law’s provision that governs suspensions sparked outrage in September, when the public learned that a patrol officer was caught on a city surveillance camera repeatedly punching a man at a bus shelter on North Avenue. The incident occurred in June, but police leaders did not see the video until the victim’s attorney filed a lawsuit. At the time, Batts could only order a suspension with pay.

Anger grew when the public learned that the officer remained on the street for months because an Internal Affairs supervisor did not alert police leaders. The video also showed that one officer restrained the victim during the beating and other officers did not intervene.

In October, as the Police Department released a plan to reduce brutality, Batts criticized the state law’s restrictions on his disciplinary power.

Batts said at a news conference that the law prevents him from taking swift action when officers commit egregious misconduct. Highlighting the beating at the bus shelter, Batts noted that police leaders cannot suspend an officer without pay unless there is a felony charge. That needs to change, he said.

Yet even as the mayor calls for changes to the law, Batts recently indicated that he would take a more limited role on the issue. In November, he sent an email to the force, saying that many officers “have heard rumors” that he is working to change the police Bill of Rights.

“Let me be as clear as I can be on this matter; it is a legislative issue that is best left to the elected representatives to decide,” his message said.

“I am not taking a position on this issue and the Baltimore Police Department is not taking a position on this issue. I will not give my support to any attempt to change the law. I will not volunteer my testimony in Annapolis on this issue. I have not and will not submit any letters about my position on this issue.”

That declaration surprised Anderson, who said that Batts, in a conversation, ‘”led me to believe that he would be willing to support changes.”

Rawlings-Blake said Batts is not sending mixed messages about his position on the law. She reiterated that he needs the power to swiftly discipline officers, but carries the dual role of being an officer and commissioner.

“You have to strike the right balance,” she said. “I know that he wants the ability to question officers. There are a lot of ways for us to get to that goal.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.


Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun

Police need community support

1:00 a.m. EST, December 25, 2014

In the aftermath of tragic assassinations of two NYPD police officers, I hope that some good can come of this horrible act.

Police officers have one of the most difficult jobs. They are asked to respond to the scenes of the most horrifying crimes and be a calming professional presence. They see crime victims on the worst days of their lives and are then counted upon to treat those who commit those crimes with unimagined restraint.

While many celebrate Christmas and other holidays with their loved ones, police officers are patrolling the streets in an attempt to keep our communities safe.

Police officers see the unintended consequences of comments made by politicians and community activists as they recklessly pander to their political base. Police officers are an easy target for race baiters and politicians who seek to deflect the public’s attention from their inability to improve the lives of their constituents. I warn that the result will be a more hostile society, not a safer one.

How do police leaders attract the best and brightest to serve our community when the President of the United States of America characterizes police agencies as having systematic issues of violence against minorities? Branded as racists, hearing chants encouraging police killings, unsupported by political leaders, it is amazing that so many choose to honorably serve as police officers.

As my career comes to a close; I have hope for change, but not the kind of “Hope and Change” that we’ve seen in the past six years. Our cities are dying from the inside out and the cancer is spreading. Leaders in our communities are afraid to be candid in identifying the causes of the decline. It is much easier to blame one of our brothers or sisters in blue who come to work every day to help those who they are called to serve and who hope to return to their loved ones when they complete their shift.

I have been in policing since 1972. I have served with thousands of law enforcement officers at all levels. There have been some officers that discredited their uniform and embarrassed their brothers and sisters in blue. Those officers must be held accountable. Their actions should not be allowed to tarnish the shields of the vast majority of police professionals any more than the actions of a few thugs should define a community.

What can we do to treat our law enforcement professionals professionally? Some things include: stop the divisive rhetoric; pay them like professionals; support training; support appropriate staffing levels to allow for safe policing; equip them as professionals; and elect officials who will ensure that public safety and support professional policing.

Don’t let the media drama that was created in Missouri and New York, when two criminals died while committing crimes in the presence, and yes, at the hands of, police officers, distract your attention from the real cause of the eroding of American family values and the disappearance of the traditional family unit which served to provide conformance to societal norms.

Finally, my message to leaders in the community is clean up your house and we’ll clean up ours.

God Bless the families of Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu, and God Bless those who choose to serve in blue, as well as their families and friends who support them.

R. Kenneth Meekins is Hampstead’s Chief of Police.

Copyright © 2014, Carroll County Times

Funeral Arrangements for Cpl. Jamel L. Clagett

Monday, December 29, 2014
4 – 7 p.m.
St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 3320 St. Peter’s Dr., Waldorf, MD

Funeral Service:
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
11 a.m.
St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 3320 St. Peter’s Dr., Waldorf, MD

St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery (following Service)

Cpl. Clagett was a ten-year decorated veteran of the CCSO. He is survived by his mother, two brothers and a sister.

Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4’s Response to Facebook Posting by a County Dispatcher

The FOP has received several e-mails and phone calls in reference to a Facebook post by a county employee who works in the communications center. While we acknowledge this person’s 1st Amendment rights, we must proclaim that under no circumstances do we, as an organization, think this expression is appropriate for this person’s current job in communications.

In the law enforcement community, dispatchers serve as a lifeline to get us accurate information and backup when we call for them. We rely on this hoping they act promptly and without prejudices that will put our lives in jeopardy.  In Baltimore County, dispatchers do an excellent job of accomplishing this most difficult and crucial task.

This employee should not be allowed to continue in a position where she could jeopardize the safety of our police officers with her clear and now public views on law enforcement.

Statement of Chuck Canterbury, National President, Fraternal Order of Police

Yesterday, NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were murdered in New York City by a coward who invoked race as a motive.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Politicians have spent the months since the tragedy in Ferguson piously wringing their hands and bemoaning the lack of trust of police by the minority community. Mayors and Congressmen and Senators and professional racists from all sides have seized on the moment to advance their often self-serving opinions of what is wrong in America as a hyperventilating media nods knowingly and faithfully reports each and every word. Enough is enough.

While these politicians and their retinues ignore the decaying infrastructure of our cities, the substandard educational system, the nonexistent families, the poor nutrition, the lack of employment opportunities–all of which create a toxic environment which breeds crime–they focus with laser vision on every real or perceived mistake made by the cops fighting a running battle to keep the streets safe for our poorest and most disadvantaged citizens in our country’s worst pockets.

Enough is enough. There’s nothing wrong with the way cops do their jobs that won’t be fixed when politicians suck it up and attack the problems that breed poverty and crime–but they’re not going to do that. The media professes shock when we speak out–well, buckle them on America–you’re going to hear a lot from our 325,000 members in the days and months ahead. Some of you may not like it, but you would do well to listen. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Blue Ribbons Available at Lodge #4 in Support of Sea of Blue Campaign

In support of Jean Teal, who runs Sunny Hill Farm and started the Sea of Blue campaign, (see story here) Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4 will have blue ribbons here at the lodge for anyone who wants one while supplies last.  They will be available starting on Friday 12/19/14 at 9am until 3pm or while supplies last.

Fortunately supplies are limited.  We went to various stores and were able to acquire what was left on the shelf.  We were told that a lot of blue ribbons have been sold in the last couple of days!!!!!

We are located at 9304 Harford Road Baltimore, Md. 21234

Court of Special Appeals Rules in Favor of FOP Lodge #4 in Retiree Subsidy Case Again!

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has again ruled in favor of FOP Lodge #4 and its retirees in a case that has been ongoing for several years.

On April 14, 2014 Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Finifter issued a Show Cause Order for Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Budget Director Keith Dorsey and Administrative Officer Fred Homan to appear in Circuit Court on June 26, 2014 to show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt and/or subject to sanctions, including incarceration for failing to follow the order of the court to reimburse the affected retirees a total of $1,801,479.54 and reset their health care subsidies to the contracted rate. Baltimore County filed a motion to quash the the Show Cause Order and on May 28, 2014 the motion was denied.

On May 30, 2014 Baltimore County filed a Certificate of Compliance with the Court’s Orders.  They certified that the health care subsidies for the affected retirees were reset to the proper rate.  In addition they issued checks made payable to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge # 4 for an amount totaling $1,801,479.54. The Show Cause Order was then dismissed.

The County filed 3 appeals to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals concerning the rulings of the Baltimore County Circuit Court, the November 5, 2013 order to restore the subsidy, the March 6, 2014 decision awarding the reimbursement to be paid to the affected retirees and the April 17, 2014 decision awarding interest on the money owed to the retirees.

The Court of Special Appeals has denied the County’s appeals and ruled in favor of the retirees and FOP Lodge #4.

This decision is a summary of the history of this case. Everyone should read it in its entirety and understand the environment in which employees and retirees are subjected to everyday under this administration.

Read the decision here.