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In the Media: Baltimore Police Camera Policy; Conflict Continues Over Illegal Dirtbikes

An illegal dirt biker in Baltimore, 2008.
Cranky Messiah
An illegal dirt biker in Baltimore, 2008.

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore Police Body Camera Policy Reflects Some Outside Recommendations, Diverges From Others

"The Baltimore Police Department policy governing the body camera pilot program that began Monday largely mirrors policies put forward on the national level, but also diverges from some recommendations of a city task force that studied the issue ahead of the program's rollout.

"The department released the policy Tuesday after drawing criticism for declining to release it the day before, when more than 150 officers started wearing the cameras in the city's Eastern, Western and Central police districts as part of a two-month pilot program.

"One difference between the policy and the task force recommendations relates to when officers who are involved in use-of-force incidents or in-custody deaths, or are the subject of criminal investigations, can view footage from their camera.

"The policy allows officers involved in such incidents to view their recordings prior to being interviewed if they have been told by prosecutors that they will not face charges, or if they are administratively compelled by the department to provide a statement. Such compelled statements cannot be used in court proceedings.

"The policy further states that officers 'who are the subject of an administrative investigation' may view the footage prior to submitting any required reports and 'being interviewed by the appropriate investigative unit.'

"The task force, however, recommended in April that officers involved in such incidents 'should be required to make a statement concerning an incident without first reviewing his or her camera footage of the incident.'"

Full Article

From City Paper: For What?: A Recent Crackdown On Ilegal Dirt Bikes Leaves the Community Embattled, While Talk of a Legal Track Gains Momentum

"A group of veteran dirt bikers gather in the parking lot of the Gulf station on Gwynns Falls Parkway near Mondawmin Mall, while Foxtrot, the Baltimore Police Department's helicopter, hovers nearby and police linger in the median.

"'The bird . . . ,' one dirt biker mutters. 'Bitch ain't got enough gas to stay up there all day.'

"He is in his early 30s and he's been riding since he was a teen. His four sons, all middle school aged, also ride. All his bikes are legal.

"He is shot out of a cannon today. He had plans to ride. Moments earlier, the police stopped a cluster of youths on bicycles who had gathered to watch a group of dirt bikers traverse a large hill next to Gwynns Falls Elementary School.

"'What's the problem with us riding our bikes? We ain't hitting no cars. For what? What's the reason? They passed the law that they weren't supposed to chase us. Three of my homeboys been in the hospital with comas and all that from the fuckin' police chasing them. Why y'all fuckin' with us though? Like, for what?'

"Like the other dirt bikers gathered here today, he will not give City Paper his name because for the past two months the Baltimore Police have been cracking down on dirt bikes, leaving the dirt-bike community paranoid and embattled.

"He goes on: 'We ain't out here shooting each other, everybody rides bikes and gets along. We ain't out here beefing.'

"A big guy in a buttoned up polo shirt with a deep voice, who also won't give his name, hesitantly chimes in: 'East, West, South . . .'

"Veteran Biker interrupts him.

'It's people from out of town too. Y'all see them motherfuckin' bike girls out here last week? We even have white girls come from out of town—with braids. Hitting wheelies."

"'In Baltimore,' the Big Guy adds, 'we started the dirt bikes, now all the cities all coming together.'

"'They need to come down on everybody motherfuckin' selling drugs and shit. Why you ain't solve these murder cases? How many murders we have the past couple months? But they don't solve any of them,' Veteran Dirt Biker says. 'But they get us on dirt bikes and take dirt bikes. For what? We're still gonna ride.'”

Full Article

From The Washington Post: Fatally Scalded Inmate Was Kept in Cell with Broken Heater

"A convicted murderer under observation for behavioral problems was allowed to remain in his cell as he destroyed a radiator over an 8-hour period, eventually flooding the tier with water and scalding himself to death, according to an internal investigative report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

"Prison officials wouldn’t say if they disciplined any of the three correctional officers who were placed on administrative leave after Louis S. Leysath III was fatally burned Feb. 20 at the maximum-security Jessup Correctional Institution near Baltimore.

"Prison officials had disclosed the death but not the details and timeline.

"Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Stephen Moyer, when asked about the incident Tuesday, gave a condensed version of the investigative report.

“'Yes, a huge metal cover was pulled off of the heating system, and the steam got on him and he did pass away,' Moyer said.

"Attorney William Renahan said he has filed a wrongful death claim with the state on behalf of Leysath’s family, a first step toward a possible civil lawsuit."

Full Article