City needs state police, Fulton tells lawmakers

He wants troopers to lead homicide investigations

February 06, 2003|By Stephanie Hanes | Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF

Blasting the mayor and city police, Del. Tony E. Fulton told lawmakers yesterday that policies aimed at reducing crime in Baltimore are a failure and that state police and perhaps even the National Guard should be brought in to fight the city's violence.

"We are known nationally as a dangerous, dirty city," Fulton said during his presentation to the House Judiciary Committee. He later referred to Baltimore as "terminally ill."

Fulton has introduced a bill that would significantly expand the role of the state police in the city. The bill would require state troopers to lead homicide investigations in any Maryland jurisdictions with more than 50 homicides a year -- namely, Baltimore City and Prince George's County.

The measure would also eliminate some of the restrictions on state police operations in the city. Currently, city and state police must sign an agreement, called a memorandum of understanding, before troopers can take on most police duties -- even making traffic stops -- in Baltimore.

Mayor Martin O'Malley said this month that the city police hoped to reach an agreement with the state to give troopers authority.

While the city Police Department welcomes state police involvement, giving state troopers unlimited jurisdiction would cause confusing and potentially dangerous overlap, Baltimore police Col. George L. Klein told the panel.

Moreover, he said, state police have estimated that it would cost $20 million annually to provide the extra services required by the bill. "I am not bashing the Maryland State Police," Klein said. "It's just a different type of policing in urban Maryland and rural Maryland."

Jeanne D. Hitchcock, Baltimore's deputy mayor for intergovernmental relations, called the bill problematic and said the mayor's office had faith in city police to combat the homicides for which Fulton said the city was renowned.

"Those of us who love the city would be loath to call it dirty and dangerous," she told the committee. "We do recognize problems ... but this [bill] is bad public policy."

State police involvement in the city has been a contentious issue for nearly a decade, with politicians and city police officials worrying that troopers might lack training to effectively handle urban crime.

Recently, though, more city and state officials have said state police personnel could help the overworked city department.

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