Annapolis police field complaints about photographing youths during investigation

July 28, 2014|By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun

The police chief in Annapolis on Monday sought to counter complaints about officers photographing youths.

Rumors spread over the weekend on social media and elsewhere that officers were photographing African-American children in the city, and several people attended Monday night's Annapolis City Council meeting to voice concerns.

Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop said officers and detectives have been investigating recent robberies in which two men were jumped by a group of African-American juveniles in the Clay Street area.

He acknowledged some officers interviewed and photographed juveniles as part of the investigation, but said, "It's very misleading to say we're stopping anyone indiscriminately."

"This is a crime-solving activity that we're involved in here," Pristoop told members of the Annapolis City Council Monday night. "It is very directed. It's specific to a recent violent crime."

The mayor and aldermen were not critical of the chief, though some residents were.

Clay Street resident Tonya Booth said her son, who she said is captain of his football team and works two jobs, was stopped and photographed. She said he told her he didn't know what to do when the officers asked to take his picture.

Booth said she generally supports police but, "I disagree with that 100 percent."

"I feel there's a problem somewhere with that and it needs to be addressed immediately," she said.

Harold Lloyd, of the Obery Court community along Clay Street, described boys of varying ages and complexions being stopped by police. He challenged the mayor and aldermen to consider what they would do if it were their children involved. "How would you respond?" he asked.

Robert Eades, who lives in the Clay Street community, condemned the practice. He said officers should call the children's parents and meet with them at the police station. "They're underage. It's racial profiling," he said.

The incident that spurred the police investigation was reported at 11:43 p.m. July 21, after two men walking on Franklin Street were separately approached from behind by five to seven young males who assaulted them and took one man's wallet and the other man's wallet and cell phone. The assailants ran off, police said.

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