- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003


   BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland State Police Superintendent Edward Norris promised to send troopers to help Baltimore fight crime when he left his job as city police commissioner in December.
   But no extra troopers have been assigned to Baltimore’s crime-fighting efforts since then, despite initial praise for the arrangement from City Hall and state officials, as well as the city police administration.
   “I’m disappointed,” said Delegate Tony E. Fulton, Baltimore Democrat, who proposed during the last legislative session to expand state police authority, but withdrew the bill at the urging of Col. Norris and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. The legislation would have made it easier for troopers to work in the city.
   “I don’t understand why anybody would deny state troopers to have police powers in any jurisdiction,” he said. “The bill died because the governor and Col. Norris said [they] were going to do a memorandum of understanding with the city and [they] didn’t need the bill. Why isn’t it happening now?”
   Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said he didn’t know why the deal apparently fell through. Mr. O’Malley had said in January that troopers would be working in Baltimore soon.
   “They are an administration in transition,” Mr. O’Malley said of Col. Norris and Mr. Ehrlich. “They had a tough legislative session and have tough fiscal realities to deal with. Maybe their initial desire to help has had to be tempered by their budget position.”
   State police officials declined to comment Tuesday.
   While city police officials have sought state police help for years, they’ve said they want that assistance on their terms. State police have balked, saying they want more latitude.
   Maryland law prohibits state troopers from making most kinds of arrests and traffic stops in Baltimore, but the mayor or police commissioner can waive the restrictions.
   With drugs and violence becoming pressing city concerns, many have begun to reconsider the prohibition against state police working in Baltimore.
   The most recent effort to bring troopers into the city has been slow, according to letters and memos between state and city police obtained by the Baltimore Sun.
   In December, Col. Norris and Mr. Ehrlich publicly promised state help. “This is a good thing for troopers and for law enforcement, and it is equally good for Baltimore city,” Mr. Ehrlich said at a news conference announcing Col. Norris’ selection as superintendent. “Troopers want to do more with regards to our state and most particularly our city.”
   About a month later, Col. Norris put his offer in writing to Baltimore’s new police commissioner, Kevin Clark.
   “Maryland State Police can provide you with immediate help,” Col. Norris wrote. “By granting full police authority to state troopers in Baltimore, the police presence in the city would immediately increase by 5 percent, due to the [200] troopers who live there. My offer of assistance also includes placing troopers on patrol with city officers and assigning additional troopers to the warrant apprehension unit and gun squad.”
   The next day, Commissioner Clark requested 34 troopers and five chemists to fill city slots.
   On March 13, another city police official wrote to a deputy secretary at the state police. The official, Kristen Mahoney, said the city was withdrawing its request for chemists.
   Miss Mahoney also wrote that the city wouldn’t grant broad police powers to the troopers who live in Baltimore. She noted that Col. Norris, as city police commissioner, had turned down a similar offer from the previous state police superintendent. Miss Mahoney reiterated the request for 34 troopers.
   State police responded two weeks later, saying that Commissioner Clark and Col. Norris needed to “meet and discuss the availability of resources and related deployment plans.”
   Top-ranking city police officials say that meeting hasn’t taken place.
   

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