Plainclothes Officers Ordered To Wear Uniforms

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 – Anne Kramer

Plainclothes Baltimore Police officers are now being ordered to wear uniforms until a policy review of their procedures is complete.

Baltimore Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tells WBAL Radio the changes come as a result of the fatal shooting of Officer William Torbitt.

Officer Torbitt was shot and killed during a fight outside the Select Lounge downtown early Sunday morning.

Commissioner Bealefeld says 41 rounds were fired by five police officers’ weapons who responded to the fight and were trying to break it up.

An unarmed man in the crowd and four others including another police officer were injured.

Torbitt was in plainclothes and the badge around his neck came off during the fight according to police.

Guglielmi says the Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Patrol are reviewing the policy that dictates procedures for those plainclothes officers.

Officers who work in the Violent Crime Impact Section will have to wear vests and police raid jackets.

The police spokesman says they are talking with other departments around the nation regarding policies following friendly fire incidents like here in Baltimore.

“We are taking this incident extremely seriously, looking to everything we can so that we can prevent something like this from happening in the future and learning from this,” says Guglielmi.

Meantime, the Mayor is now looking for an outside agency to do an independent review of the shooting.

Commissioner Bealefeld expects the investigation to take three weeks.

A spokesman for the Mayor confirms to WBAL Radio that the independent review will start once the police department investigation is complete.

Gene Ryan the Vice President of the Baltimore FOP tells WBAL Radio that he would like the Mayor to wait until the police have completed their investigation.

He says they would welcome the investigation if it is done by an accredited law enforcement agency.

“You can not understand what was going through their minds. If you are going to be fair to the officers that went through that tragedy, you have to have somebody with that same type of perspective,” says Ryan.

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