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BCoPD is sharing the text of its response to an August 15, 2016 letter from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. re: the August 1 police-involved shooting of Korryn Gaines. The response is addressed to Sherrilyn A. Ifill, President and Director-Counsel; and Monique L. Dixon, Deputy Director of Policy and Senior Counsel, authors of the August 15 letter.

The response, sent today, is provided here in its entirety:

The Baltimore County Police Department has received your August 15, 2016 letter seeking additional information about the police investigation involving Korryn Gaines. Despite the fact that the investigation is ongoing, we are attempting to address questions and clarify information related to this incident.

This is an ongoing police investigation; accordingly, some information you have requested is not available for release at this time. The Baltimore County Police Department considers transparency essential to the public trust. We held a press briefing about three hours after the conclusion of the August 1 incident and a follow-up briefing on August 2, less than 24 hours after the initial briefing. Further, we have published the information we are able to release at this time to the agency’s website and social media platforms for public access and viewing. These actions demonstrate that we fully understand the public’s need for and right to answers about such incidents. We continue to respond to individual questions from media, citizens and public officials, recognizing that information is key to building confidence and trust.

Finally, please understand that an investigation is a process of information gathering over time. All of the facts and circumstances of an investigation are not known, fixed, readily able to be gathered, and available at the conclusion of an incident or even hours afterward; if this were the case, there would be no need for an investigation. The very nature of the investigative process is such that information evolves over time as interviews are conducted, statements are vetted, physical evidence is examined and facts are gathered. We are committed to providing new information as soon as we are able (and have done just that over the past two weeks) as long as doing so has no deleterious effect on the ongoing investigation. We apologize if these updates – made in the interests of transparency – have confused any of the issues for you.

I will address each of your questions in the order in which you pose them.

1.      Re: audio recordings, we are in the process of reviewing and transcribing tapes of four radio channels used by patrol and specialized personnel during the incident. These include a Hostage Negotiations Team channel and a Tactical channel.

There are no audiotapes of the conversation between Gaines and negotiators because Maryland law (Courts and Judicial Proceedings, Section 10-402, of the Annotated Code) allows recordings only during barricades involving hostages. Kodi Gaines was not a hostage in this incident because – while police had serious concerns for his safety due to his mother’s erratic and unusual behavior – he was not used as leverage to fulfill a demand.

Re: body cameras, during the August 1 and 2 press briefings we advised that none of the officers “involved in the direct conflict at this incident site” were equipped with body cameras. That is accurate. On August 4, we learned of and informed the public of the existence of body camera video filmed by officers stationed on the outside perimeter of the incident in support roles; this footage does not capture events inside the apartment building. This video will not be released at this time due to the ongoing investigation.

Information about deployment plans for BCoPD’s body camera program is available on our website, The body camera program began during the first week of July. To date, 60 officers (out of 1,435 who eventually will wear them) have been equipped. The 60 cameras are deployed equally between the 10 precincts and the Crash Team.

2.      A copy of Baltimore County Police Field Manual Article 4-3.2, Serving Arrest Warrants in Baltimore County, is attached.

3.      We continue to withhold the names of the officers involved in this incident because of the ongoing investigation and due to safety concerns.  A copy of the pertinent section of our Memorandum of Understanding with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #4 is attached.

Three officers participated in the service of the warrant on Gaines. All three are Officers First Class. They have 28, 21 and six years of service.
4.      As we have stated in our briefings and written updates and based on information available at this point in the investigation, the turning point of this confrontation occurred when Gaines lifted her Mossberg pistol grip shotgun to a ready position and aimed it at the tactical officer. Ms. Gaines threatened to kill police officers during the standoff. We continue the investigation of the specific circumstances of the shooting. No additional information is available for release at this time.

5.      BCoPD conducts an administrative review of officer-involved shootings; this involves a review of procedures and policies relevant to the incident. Disciplinary action in this case, if appropriate, would follow completion of this review. 

6.      The tactical officer remains assigned to administrative duties at this time. Upon completion of the police investigation of the incident, the Baltimore County State’s Attorney will engage in an independent review.

We sincerely hope this resolves your concerns. Again, we are committed to providing as much information as possible, as soon as possible, while preserving a fair and thorough investigation of the facts of this incident.

Over the past four years, Baltimore County has recorded fewer total homicides than during any four-year period since the Carter Administration, as well as a homicide rate that is historically low.

Nineteen homicides occurred in Baltimore County in 2013 – fewer than in 2012 (23 homicides) and 2011 (30 homicides).

Most significantly, the homicide rate – the number of homicides in proportion to the population – is far lower than since the 1970s because the population has grown by 163,000 people since then: 818,287 in 2013 compared to the mid-600,000s in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Under the current administration and Police Chief James Johnson, the homicide rate has been cut by nearly 43 percent from what it was the year Lennon was shot and Mount St. Helens erupted. In 1980, the rate was four homicides per 100,000 residents; in 2013, the rate is 2.3 homicides per 100,000 residents.

“One homicide is one crime too many,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.  “Still, we are pleased that by all standards our county is safer than it has ever been.”

The total number of homicides over the past four years, during the watch of the Kamenetz administration, is lower than at any continuous four-year period since 1976 to 1979.

Case Clearance Rates

Case clearance rates are a measure of how well a police agency solves crime and holds criminals accountable. BCoPD has some of the highest Part I violent crime case clearance rates in the nation – well above the national average for all Part I violent crimes (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault).

BCoPD’s homicide clearance rates are so good that in September 2013 the U.S. Department of Justice featured BCoPD in a 54-page publication on best practices for homicide clearance. Researchers from the Bureau of Justice Assistance visited our Homicide Unit to examine our staffing, management, resources and investigative strategies.

The study focused on 2011, a year in which BCoPD’s 83.3 percent homicide clearance rate exceeded the national average (62 percent) by more than 21 percent.

In 2012, our homicide clearance rate was an incredible 95.7 percent, compared to the national average of 62.5 percent.

“The DOJ study found what we have known all along to be true,” said Police Chief James Johnson. “We do an exceptional job of clearing cases because we use state-of-the art technology and forensics, because our communities trust us and work with us and – most of all – because we hire, train and retain quality investigators who understand that solving crime is an academic exercise.”

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger credited BCoPD’s quality investigative work to his success in prosecuting criminals and thus reducing crime.

 “Prosecutors can only win cases that are solved,” he said. “Quality cases mean lengthy sentences.  Lengthy sentences mean criminals are not on the street to commit additional offenses.  It really is a simple equation.  The police build good cases, the prosecutors seek lengthy sentences and the criminals end up in jail.”

About Crime Statistics

BCoPD compiles crime statistics in accordance with the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

In 2011, Baltimore County began presenting annual crime statistics in the context of a multi-year average, rather than simply comparing the numbers to those for the previous year. In any given year, a host of factors – weather is one of the most significant – may cause crime to spike up or down. Such short-term comparisons often do not provide a true picture of local crime.

The number of homicides in 2013 was well below the previous five-year average.

Revised June 27, 2017