City gives highest honors to officers acting under fire

March 11, 2009|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,justin.fenton@baltsun.com

With the Baltimore City Police Department embroiled in controversy over a new policy that prohibits the release of names of officers who shoot or kill civilians, the department bestowed its highest honors yesterday on three officers who found themselves in recent gun battles and helped save the lives of their colleagues.

More than 50 officers were recognized for their efforts, which included shooting suspects who had fired on their partners and coming to the aid of civilians while off-duty. Police commanders gave out three Medals of Honor, seven Citations of Valor, 26 Silver Stars, 19 Bronze Stars and three Certificates of Recognition.

"What you do every day - risking your lives to help the citizens of this city - we are all grateful and thankful," said Mayor Sheila Dixon.

The recipients of the Medal of Honor, the department's highest award, were Officer Christopher Timms, who shot and killed a suspect who hid under a van and shot his partner; Detective Robert Himes, who rendered aid and protected a colleague who was shot while chasing a suspect; and Officer Daniel Harper, who dragged partner Dante Arthur to safety after Arthur was shot in the face while making a drug arrest in January.

Arthur, who is still recovering from his injuries and was unable to attend, received a Citation of Valor.

Also recognized was Detective Jemell Rayam, who on Friday fatally shot a man who had struck another officer with a vehicle. On Monday, police redacted Rayam's name from a police report of a 2007 incident for which he was honored yesterday with a Citation of Valor and a Silver Star.

Officials have said they generally will release names of officers who shoot civilians only when the officers are found to have committed a crime, citing safety concerns for officers and their families. Of the 24 incidents for which officers were recognized, all but six involved the shooting of a criminal suspect who police said threatened the life of an officer.

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