On Sunday night, a bystander told a city school police officer that masked men armed with guns and box cutters were robbing a Family Dollar Store on Harford Road.
A Baltimore police spokesman said the officer confronted one of the men, who approached the officer "in a threatening manner." He said the officer fired several shots, hitting him at least once in the upper body.
The two others escaped and the wounded man was taken to a hospital. He has not been charged, and the officer is on administrative duty pending a review by city homicide detectives, who investigate all shootings by police.
Two days later, that is the only information being released by authorities. The public has not been told the name of the person shot, his condition, the hospital where he's being treated, whether either of the other two men have been arrested or whether any weapon was recovered.
Officials also refuse to divulge the name of the school system officer who fired his weapon.
Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi referred all questions about the officer's name to school authorities. "He's not our employee," he said. "He's their employee."
School system spokeswoman Edie House-Foster referred all questions about the case to city police, because they're in charge of the investigation. As for the name of the officer, she said school attorneys advised her, "We cannot release the name until all pending investigations have been completed."
That differs from the policy of the Baltimore Police Department, which releases the names of officers involved in a shooting 48 hours after the incident.
The city department's policy came after a contentious debate with The Baltimore Sun after the police commissioner stopped releasing the names altogether in early 2009. City police reversed that decision in January, putting the agency back on track with most other area police departments that routinely release the names of officers who fire their weapons. It's an issue of accountability, and standing up for the use of deadly force.
If school police follow the lead of their city counterparts, then the name of their police officer should have been made public on Tuesday.
Police agencies don't like to talk about each other except when issuing praise for cooperation in investigations that lead to arrests. But who's responsible for telling the public when a Baltimore city officer arrests a Baltimore County officer — the county for which the officer works or the city whose agency made the bust?
Authorities say that in the case involving the holdup at the Family Dollar Store at Harford Road and East North Avenue, it's up to the school police to file charges against the suspect. But it's city homicide detectives who will decide whether the shooting by the officer is justified.
The Sun made the naming of officers an issue in a lawsuit filed last year. Most of the issues under contention have been resolved. But it appears the rules are not consistent from agency to agency, even those operating within the city.
So attorneys assigned to the city school system say names of officers who shoot people can't be released until the investigation is completed and attorneys assigned to the city Police Department say the commissioner can release names whenever he wants.