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History of the Baltimore County Police Department


One of the first police forces in history.

The Baltimore County Police Department was established by the Maryland State Legislature on April 11, 1874. The Maryland Legislature approved what became Chapter 374 of the Laws of Maryland. This authorized the Baltimore County Commissioners "to appoint such number of policemen as they may deem necessary, for the better protection of persons and property; the number not to exceed thirty at any one time, and to designate such number of said policemen as they may deem advisable, not exceeding five, as chief policemen."

A second provision stated that "the pay of each policeman shall be two dollars per day, except such police as may be mounted; and mounted policemen shall furnish their own horses, trappings, equipment and forage for horses, and the pay of the mounted policemen shall be three dollars per day." On June 17, 1874, the County Commissioners divided the two mile portion of the county bordering the Baltimore City boundary into five districts and appointed the first police force. Officers were appointed to one year terms.


County Commissioners were authorized to build a station house at Waverly. The Canton Station was added a year later.


Historic Marshal of Police.

In 1883 a new position was created, Marshal of Police. Charles O. Kemp was appointed to this office. Kemp, a loyal Democrat, had been the Superintendent of the Baltimore County Almshouse. He had served as a trustee for one of the schools in the Fifth District. The new position consolidated the responsibility and control of the police force under one person instead of individual chiefs for each police district.


The first call boxes were installed in the area around Huntington Avenue, North Avenue, Jones Falls., and 28th Street.


A new station was built in Mount Winans.


A 17 square mile portion of Baltimore County was annexed by Baltimore City. The number of officers in the Baltimore County Police Department was cut from 33 to 10 as officers and station houses were absorbed into the Baltimore City Police Department.


Stations were built at Govans and Arlington.


The Mount Washington Station opened.


Terrence Doyle became the first county officer to be shot when he  attempted to arrest two men for breaking into a barn. Doyle was shot six times, but none of the wounds proved serious and he recovered. The two suspects were apprehended.


The Maryland General Assembly passed an act aimed at improving the background of those appointed to the Baltimore County Police force. The act stated: "all appointments hereafter made to the police force of Baltimore County shall be made from the qualified voters thereof, and all applications for such appointments shall be made upon printed blanks to be furnished free of charge by the County Commissioners, wherein the applicant shall set forth in his own handwriting his full name and age, the place and State of his birth, his occupation for two years preceding his application, and such other information as the Commissioners may require touching the merit and fitness of the applicant for the position for which he applies; such application shall be signed by the applicant, with his affidavit that the facts therein set forth are true to the best of his knowledge and belief, and shall contain blanks to be filled in by four reputable citizens of said County, certifying that the applicant is known to them for not less than one year and in character and habits, to the best of their knowledge and belief is in all respects fit for service which he wishes to enter. All appointments shall be hereafter made from applications filed not less than one month or more than two years previous to such appointments; such appointee shall not be less than 21 years nor more than 45 years of age; all officers shall be retired from service at an age not exceeding 58 years."


Telephones were placed in the Arlington, Mount Winans, and Canton stations. County Commissioners approved the purchase of a patrol wagon not to exceed the cost $265.


Officers were granted twelve days of leave per year. Prior to this, officers were on duty seven days a week.


The first female was appointed to the police force as a matron. Two other women, Eva Aldridge and Ruth Jones were appointed to summer positions as Special Officers to protect young girls at the river resorts in the Eastern part of the county.


A Harley Davidson police motorcycle.

The first automobile was purchased and the first motorcycle was put into service.


Another 40 square miles of Baltimore County was annexed by Baltimore City. Baltimore County lost 34 of its 43 officers to the Baltimore City Police Department. The Canton, Arlington, Mount Winans, and Gardenville stations also became part of the city.


New stations were built in Pikesville, Halethorpe, Dundalk, Essex, and Fullerton.


A new Baltimore County Police Headquarters was built on Washington Avenue in Towson. The Bureau of Identification was established. Its main purpose was to classify fingerprints and photographs and to serve as an aid in solving crime.


Catonsville Station was built.


A Turnkey at the Pikesville Station was killed by an escaping prisoner. William Hunter, who was 74 at the time, was shot by one of the two prisoners who escaped. Both prisoners were later recaptured.


Applicants were required to pass a written test before being hired as a Baltimore County Police Officer. A one week training program was established.


A plain clothes unit was established and trained to handle criminal investigations.


The police academy opened in Towson.


A two way radio system was installed.


The Edgemere Station was built.


Teletype machines were installed.


A fire at the Towson Station killed two prisoners being held in the lockup despite efforts by officers to pull the bars out of the windows using a tow truck.


The pistol range was opened in Texas, Maryland next to the County Almshouse. Baltimore County motorcycles became the first in the state to be equipped with two way radios.


The Training Division was formed.


A policeman and what would now be a vintage police car.

The Traffic Division was formed. Armond Elliott, Frances Jackson, and James Johnson became the first three black officers appointed to the Baltimore County Police Department.


Virginia Weed and Leah Perry became the first two women to be appointed to the Juvenile Protection Bureau with the rank of Sergeant. Parkville Station was opened.


The new Woodlawn Station opened replacing the 20 year old sub-station.


The Accident Investigation Unit was created. The first department manual was distributed.


A mandatory police promotional test was instituted. The first polygraph machine was purchased.


Cadet program instituted


The new Headquarters building opens on Kenilworth Drive. The K9 Unit was formed.


A new station on Wilkens Avenue replaces the Halethorpe and Catonsville stations.


Garrison Station opens on Reisterstown Road.


The new pistol range opens on Dulaney Valley Road.


The new Cockeysville station opens on Wight Avenue.


The Tactical Division was formed.


A new Essex station was built. The Fraternal Order of Police was established.


The Marine Unit was established.


First female officer promoted to the rank of Major.


Hostage Negotiations Team was created.


Baltimore County Police Foundation was formed.


First black officer promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.


The Police Community Relations Council was established.


Baltimore County officer designs the "McGruff Crime Prevention" stamp. Maryland's first Child Abuse Unit was established in Baltimore County. The Baltimore County Police Department became the first major department in the country to be awarded national accreditation.


North Point Station opened on Wise Avenue.


White Marsh Precinct opened replacing the Fullerton Station.


The first helicopter was placed into service.


The new Woodlawn Precinct opened replacing the one built in 1955. Computers were installed in patrol cars and radio systems were upgraded to 800Mhz.


The Citizen's Police Academy was developed.


First black officer promoted to the rank of Colonel. First female officer promoted to the rank of Colonel.


The new Police Memorial was dedicated in the Court House Plaza in Towson.


The new Towson Precinct opened replacing the one built in 1927.


Construction of new PAL centers means that, for the first time, there is a center in every precinct.
The Department joins the CODIS database allowing it to share and access DNA information to identify suspects.
The agency is reaccredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
The computer crime unit and its mission are expanded and it is renamed the Digital and Multimedia Evidence Unit.


Precinct 8: Parkville is restored as an independent command.


Randallstown sub-station is opened.


A Police substation is opened as part of the Stembridge Community Center in Precinct 11: Essex.


The Gang Enforcement Team is created to fight growth of gangs in the County.
A new station is opened for Precinct 4: Pikesville.
Precinct 3's name is changed from Garrison to Franklin.


The Violent Crime Unit is created to investigate non-fatal shootings and other serious assaults.
Three new helicopters are acquired.
A new station is opened for Precinct 8: Parkville.

Photo of BCoPD's first stand up electronic T-3 vehicle.2013

Computer-based incident reporting (Field Based Reporting) is introduced.
Department first stand up electronic T-3 vehicles deployed.


In-car computer linked to school security cameras.
Focus on increased use of social media for information sharing.
Automated Crash Reporting System implemented to electronically submit accident reports in real time.


Body Worn Camera program piloted.
Taser-Cam system introduced, equips each taser with a camera that activates when deployed. 


Body Worn Camera program implemented. 
ShareFile system implemented, allows search warrant applications to be entered electronically to court.


Mobile Fingerprint scanner introduced.


Animal Abuse Team begins for investigation of animal abuse, neglect and cruelty.
Mobile Crisis Team expanded to 24 hours to provide behavioral and mental health services. 

Photo of new departmental Ford SUV.2019

Melissa Hyatt sworn in on June 17, 2019 as first female Police Chief for the department.
Ford SUVs become the major patrol vehicle. 
Uniform changes to blue BDU type pants, blue shirt with ballistic vest worn over the shirt and a baseball cap.


COVID-19 pandemic affects policing; non-sworn staff required to work from home. 

Revised April 7, 2021         


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