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In the Media: Charge Dropped against School Police Officer; Police to Announce Dirt Bike Crackdown

A still from the video that went viral of a police officer slapping a young man at a Baltimore City School.
A still from the video that went viral of a police officer slapping a young man at a Baltimore City School.

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Child abuse charge dropped against Baltimore school police officer in slapping incident

"Prosecutors have dropped the felony child abuse charge against a Baltimore school police officer in the videotaped slapping and kicking of a student outside a city high school last month, his defense attorney said Thursday.

"Anthony C. Spence, 44, now faces only second-degree assault and misconduct in office, both misdemeanors, so he plans to reach out to the school district about resuming his pay, attorney Warren Brown said. He was suspended without pay from the school police force due to being charged with a felony.

"Spokespeople for the school district and State's Attorney's Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Brown said he'd received the call from a prosecutor Wednesday about the dropped charge. Spence is to appear in court Thursday morning for a preliminary hearing.

"Brown said the student spat on Spence before he slapped him."

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From the Baltimore Sun: City Council members, mayoral candidates: Tear collapsing vacants down

"City Council members and mayoral candidates called Wednesday on Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to speed up the demolition of the city's crumbling abandoned houses after several collapsed in the high winds of the last week.

"The city is spending $10 million a year to tear down vacant homes. But some officials said Rawlings-Blake should immediately divert more money to bring down about 500 that have bulging walls, severe stress cracks and missing rooftops before they fall down on their own.

"At least five houses have collapsed since March 28. One in West Baltimore fell on a man as he sat in his car. He later died at an area hospital.

"The city keeps a list of nearly 17,000 vacant buildings and considers about 500 at such risk of collapse that inspectors examine them every 10 days.

"Rawlings-Blake said she is already spending four times as much money as previous mayors on demolition. She said her Vacants to Value program attacks the long-standing problem on multiple fronts: razing houses when they become safety hazards, targeting investors who will rehabilitate others and land-banking property not ripe for redevelopment.

"She said she is trying to address generations of blight and abandonment.

"The Rawlings-Blake administration says the city has demolished more than 1,700 dilapidated buildings since 2010. Another 4,000 are to be torn down over the next four years using $94 million under a new state and city program."

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From the Washington Post: Police in District, counties to announce dirt bike crackdown

"Police from the District, Maryland and Virginia plan on Thursday to discuss plans to combat what has become a rite of passage as the days get warmer — the scourge of dirt bikers taking over the streets.

“'The come back every summer,' D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Wednesday, already fielding questions after residents complained about seeing packs of illegal bikes and all-terrain vehicles commandeering the streets of Shaw earlier this week.

"Lanier said that she and representatives from seven other police agencies, along with the U.S. attorney’s office, have scheduled a news conference Thursday morning on 'the results of an ongoing investigation that has been going on for several months' regarding bikers.

"The chief and other police officials declined Wednesday to discuss the case further.

"Swarms of dirt bike riders have taken over streets across the region, from Baltimore to the District and their suburbs, taunting police to stop them as they ride in packs, doing wheelies, weaving around traffic and ignoring traffic laws.

"Police in most areas, including Washington and Baltimore, forbid officers from chasing the bikes, deciding that it is more dangerous than simply leaving them alone. Authorities have tried many alternative methods to stop them, none of which have curtailed the activity.

"In Baltimore — where riders are immortalized in a British film called the 12 O’Clock Boys — lawmakers are proposing a track to lure the riders off the streets. Police there shut down streets along popular routes, and made it illegal for gas stations to sell to off-road vehicles. In the District, police offer a $250 reward to anyone with a tip leading to a bike that is seized, and use helicopters to track bikers as they ride through the city in hopes of seizing bikes at the ride."

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