Baltimore City Police Sgt. Stephanie Lansey, center, presented… (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore…)
Ten-year-old Michael Patrick Finnerty hadn't been the same since his bike was stolen by another juvenile in East Baltimore. Tamara Hatcher knew she could fix that.
Finnerty beamed as Hatcher, a victim liaison with the Baltimore Police Department, and other police officials surprised him with a new bike on Tuesday afternoon, just a few days before his birthday. He hopped on the seat and took off down the street, as his mother, Cathy Martin, watched from the porch.
"Just overwhelmed," Martin said of her reaction, as her son jumped a curb and pedaled down his street through the rain.
Hatcher came across Finnerty's case while sifting through recent robbery reports. The retired oficer is part of a new unit created to help keep police connected with victims of city robberies and assist them to find services.
"We want to make a resounding difference, and the resounding thing for his case was to get him a new bike," Hatcher said.
The robbery occurred March 12. Michael was riding his bike near his home on North Clinton Street when another neighborhood boy said, "Nice bike," then punched him and snatched the bike away. The first responding patrol officer was able to find the suspect and recover the bike, but it had already been badly damaged and was unrideable, Martin said.
As Hatcher spoke with Martin during follow-up calls, Martin mentioned how upset Michael was and that he wasn't playing outside like he used to, Hatcher recalled. The Police Department has a number of bikes in its seized property room that are normally auctioned off, and officials picked one out that seemed like a good replacement for the bike Michael had lost.
Sgt. Stephanie Lansey said the unit reached out to Sgt. Harvey Baublitz, of the Central District bike unit, to check the bike out and make sure it was rideable. He, in turn, took it to Broadway Cycles in Fells Point, where they made it like new, Lansey said.
For Michael and his mother, the process isn't over. The boy who took the bike is facing juvenile charges, and they were in court Monday. But she said receiving the new bike was an unexpected and generous move by the Police Department.
Deputy Commissioner John Skinner, who created the victim liaison unit, said for right now, Michael's new bike is a special case. "Over time, we'll build to the point where these type of things become a system within the system. We'll be looking for more cases like this down the road," he said.