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Baltimore County Police and Fire News

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Keyword: chief jim johnson

Today, BCoPD Chief Jim Johnson addressed several issues raised in a September 8, 2016 Buzzfeed article regarding unfounded rape cases.

While noting that the article contains numerous misrepresentations, Chief Johnson said it also raises valid concerns about the handling of reported rape cases in Baltimore County. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has asked Johnson to review how the agency handles unfounded rape cases.

"As a former prosecutor," Kamenetz said, "my expectation is that every allegation of sexual assault be given thorough professional review.  I am extremely concerned about these serious allegations, and I have directed Chief Johnson to provide me with additional information about how the department has and will handle rape cases."

“We live in a time of growing awareness of the complexities of sexual assault,” Johnson said. “Nationwide, the focus is and should be on victims. This Department has a responsibility to treat victims with respect, investigate these cases and to pursue all cases that meet the legal standard for rape.”

Re-Examining Unfounded Cases

Chief Johnson has directed the Criminal Investigation Bureau to re-examine all unfounded rape cases that have occurred over the last three years.

“While each of these cases already has been investigated, we will take a fresh look to ensure that the investigation was handled properly and that justice was done,” Johnson said.

Contrary to the headline of the Buzzfeed article, every individual who reports a rape is interviewed by a Baltimore County police officer. The officer responding to the report conducts the interview and consults with an investigator assigned to the Special Victims Unit. Officers, detectives and multiple supervisors review the case and determine whether the specific incident meets the legal critera for rape in the state of Maryland. Officers also routinely consult with the Baltimore County State’s Attorney on rape cases.

October 2014 Case

The Buzzfeed article relies heavily on an October 12, 2014 case involving a woman who fell asleep in her car after becoming intoxicated and who reports she was raped by a man who invited her to drive to his home to recover. (A redacted copy of this report is provided.)  The woman told police she talked with the suspect for an hour and accepted an invitation to watch a movie in his bedroom before he had unwanted sex with her. She told police she did not want to prosecute. SVU ruled the case unfounded.

The woman apparently told Buzzfeed that she later changed her mind and that she had contacted the officer who investigated her case with additional information. Johnson has asked detectives and the Office of the State’s Attorney to take another look at this case.

The Buzzfeed article falsely asserts that “in at least 15 cases … police wrote that the victims didn’t fight back hard enough." A review by BCoPD of each of the reports provided to Buzzfeed indicates that the Buzzfeed allegation is not accurate.

Chief Johnson noted that, as the article states, Baltimore County was the only jurisdiction (among many across the country contacted by Buzzfeed for this article) that provided records to Buzzfeed's reporters. "We have nothing to hide," Johnson said. "While we dispute many of Buzzfeed's assertions, we intend to use this article as an opportunity to see if our procedures can be refined and improved."

Update, August 5, 5 p.m.:

As a result of an additional medical procedure performed today at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Baltimore County Police believe that a round fired by a tactical officer struck Kodi Gaines, the five-year-old who suffered non life-threatening injuries in Monday’s police-involved shooting in Randallstown.

Police confirm that the officer aimed at and struck Korryn Gaines, 23, the boy’s mother, after she aimed her Mossberg shotgun at him and threatened to kill him.

Additional forensics tests will be conducted on the recovered round.

The injury from which the round was recovered is to the boy's left cheek and is consistent with BCoPD's previous confirmation that he suffered a wound to an extremity and shrapnel wounds to the upper body.

The investigation is active and ongoing. No further information is available at this time. Additional information will be provided as it become available.

Original release, August 4:

The investigation of the August 1 Korryn Gaines shooting in Randallstown continues. The Homicide Unit conducts an independent criminal investigation of all police-involved shootings; that investigation is in progress. An administrative review -- conducted for all police-involved shootings -- also remains  in progress.

After those investigations are complete, the case will be turned over to the Office of the State's Attorney for review. BCoPD's Shooting Review Board, which reviews all police-involved shootings, will examine the case for compliance with agency standards.

BCoPD offers the following updates:

  • Police Chief Jim Johnson has decided that -- because of serious safety concerns -- the department will not at this time release the name of the officer who fatally shot Gaines. BCoPD has received an unprecedented number of threats against police, including threats and actions against specific officers and officials.

    Gaines' ideology, consistent with anti-government sentiment, is also a concern. While Gaines does not appear to have been actively  affiliated with any specific anti-government group, she identified and behaved as a "free person" who does not recognize governmental authority.

    Johnson said the current national climate is a third significant factor in his decision to withhold the officer's name at this time. The recent Dallas and Baton Rouge shootings, he said, show that "lone wolf" attacks by people emotionally caught up in current events are a real possibility. "We constantly balance the need for transparency with the need to protect investigations and safety. This is a situation where I feel we must err on the side of safety."

    BCoPD's standard procedure is to release the names of officers involved in shootings about 48 hours after the incident. This complies with terms of an agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #4, which specifies the delay to give officers and their families times to cope with the situation.
  • BCoPD has not yet determined whether the five-year-old, Kodi Gaines, was struck by a round and/or shrapnel from the officer's weapon or Gaines' Mossberg shotgun. They have not yet determined where the child was at the time of the shooting. These issues remain under investigation. This information will be provided when it becomes available.
  • Chief Johnson has completed a legal review of the entry by warrant service officers into Gaines' apartment in the unit block of Sulky Court. After consultation the State's Attorney and law enforcement attorneys, BCoPD has confirmed that the legal requirements for entry to serve an arrest warrant were met.
  • After multiple reviews, BCoPD has confirmed that there is no body camera footage filmed from inside the apartment or apartment building. (BCoPD's body camera program is less than a month old, and only about 40 of the 1,900 officers in the agency currently are equipped with them.) There is body camera footage from several officers assigned to support roles on the outside perimeter of the incident. This footage is part of the investigation and will not be released at this time.
  •  There are no audiotapes of the negotiations with Gaines.  In Maryland, the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 10-402 of the Annotated Code allows recording only in hostage situations. The child, Kodi Gaines, was not a hostage in this incident; the FBI defines "hostage" as a person held to fulfill a demand, and a threat of harm unless the demand is met. Though Kodi Gaines was not a hostage, police were concerned for his safety because of his mother's unusual erratic behavior; i.e., engaging police in an armed barricade with a five-year-old at her side and wielding a firearm in the vicinity of the child.

A statement regarding firearms and the murder of five Dallas police officers has been issued by the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence. Baltimore County Chief of Police Jim Johnson is chair of the Partnerhsip.

This is the statement in its entirety:

"The National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence deeply mourns the loss of four Dallas Police Department Officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Officer, who were deliberately targeted for assassination today [July 7, 2016] by a deranged and cowardly group of individuals who were intent on killing law enforcement officers. We send our deepest condolences to the families of these brave fallen officers and to the officers and families of those who were shot and survived. Our thoughts are also with the citizens of Dallas, Texas and with this great Nation as we all share in the loss of these heroes.

Our coalition of nine national law enforcement leadership organizations has long expressed our concern over the devastating toll of violence in our communities and in violence directed towards law enforcement. Those who encourage and call for violence against law enforcement are equally as guilty as those who commit such violence and do nothing to promote the kind of mutual trust and cooperation that is needed to ensure that every American can feel safe within their communities.

Law enforcement officers put their own lives on the line to protect others, but the prevalence of gun violence across our nation is making these jobs increasingly more dangerous. Here are some of the disturbing facts:

  • Firearm fatalities among law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty have risen sharply this year, up 44 percent over the same time last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
  • Gunfire was the leading cause of officer line of duty deaths in 2014, as it has been since 2009, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
  •  An increasing proportion of police murders have been classified as ambushes. According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, between 1990 and 2000, police murders that were attributable to ambush assaults was about 12 percent; from 2001 to 2012, that figure was 21 percent.
  •  Firearms were responsible for 93 percent of homicides of law enforcement officers between 1996 and 2010, according to a 2013 Johns Hopkins study.

 Gun deaths among all Americans have been on the rise over the 15 years, going from an average of 79 per day in 2002, to 92 a day in 2014 -- the last year for which data is publicly available, according to the Center for Disease Control.

The National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence has stressed the need – as a public safety imperative – for improved responses to these senseless acts of violence and will remain committed to pursuing these improvements and calling attention to their need as we are doing today

We owe it to the heroes lost and injured today and to all of America’s law enforcement officers to do all we can to make our communities safer and to unite in support of one another, regardless of the color of our skin, how we worship, who we love or the uniform we wear. Dallas Chief of Police David Brown asked for our support and today, we pledge our support to the Dallas and DART Police Departments, to law enforcement nationwide, and to those in our communities who are far too often victimized by gun violence."


Revised September 27, 2016