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Criminal Justice

Defense Prosecutes Police Operations At Porter Trial

Dec 17, 2015

While prosecutors have been putting police Officer William Porter on trial for the April death of Freddie Gray, defense attorneys have been prosecuting the operations of the Baltimore Police Department.

Closing arguments are set for Monday in Porter’s Trial.  He is facing several charges including involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office for Gray’s death from a broken neck he suffered while in police custody.

Policy and Prognosis Prosecuted At Porter Trial

Dec 17, 2015

A former Baltimore cop, now a Virginia police chief, said Thursday police Officer William Porter did everything he could to help 25-year-old Freddie Gray; continuing the defense argument that Porter does not bear responsibility for Gray’s April death from a broken neck.

WYPR Coverage of Porter Mistrial

Dec 16, 2015
Rachel Baye/WYPR

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams declared a mistrial Wednesday afternoon after the jurors in the case of Officer William Porter said they were hopelessly deadlocked on all four counts against him.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said Monday that a report from a police think tank confirmed many of the same concerns the department had after unrest last April in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray.

The report prepared by the Police Executive Research Forum, PERF, said the department was hampered by poor planning and poor communication.

Body Camera Pilot Program Launches In City

Oct 28, 2015

  Baltimore Police launched Monday their body camera pilot program by sharing how the program will go for the next 54 days.

At the end of the program, the department will award a contract in Feb. 2016 and begin assigning officers who are on patrol or have regular interactions with the public.

Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere said a program will be fully implemented by 2018.

Confirmed and Sworn: Davis Is Now Permanent Commissioner

Oct 23, 2015

  The Baltimore City Council confirmed Kevin Davis Monday as the city’s 38th police commissioner, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake swore him in. But none of it happened without protest. 

Andrew Bardwell // Flickr Creative Commons

About a third of all Americans have a criminal record; less than 5 percent for violent crimes. Those of us who don’t have records are probably aware of some of the consequences, like fines, probation, jail time and parole. We may not be aware of collateral consequences that affect employment, public assistance, housing and voting rights. For example, ex-felons earn about 40 percent less annually than non- felons.

Several new laws take effect tomorrow that could allow Marylanders with criminal records to expunge or shield from public view certain parts of them. One of the new laws would also allow actions that are no longer crimes, like possession of small amounts of marijuana, to be removed from peoples’ records.

With Sheilah to talk more about the new laws is Caryn Aslan, Senior Policy Advocate at the non-profit Job Opportunities Task Force. She’s spent years lobbying in Annapolis to adopt laws to make it possible for people with a record to remove those marks. Joining them is Danielle. She’s 37, has 7 children and a criminal record for an arrest that resulted in no trial and no conviction. The offense occurred during a domestic violence dispute in 2002. 

Protestors Applaud Judge's Decision

Sep 11, 2015

Protesters say they won a victory today when Judge Barry Williams decided to keep the trials of the six indicted police officers in the Freddie Gray case in the city.

Just before the judge announced his decision, it was a tense scene. About three dozen protesters and the news media were corralled by the sheriff’s department onto the sidewalk in front of the courthouse.  

Open Phones: The Payout To Freddie Gray's Family

Sep 9, 2015

Open phones for listener comment about the top news of Baltimore and our region, including the vote by Baltimore's Board of Estimates to pay the family of Freddie Gray 6.4 million dollars. 


The Baltimore City Law Department has reached a tentative $6.4 million settlement with the family of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who suffered a fatal spine injury while in police custody.

The proposed settlement still has to be approved by the city's Board of Estimates, which is comprised of five city leaders including the mayor and the president of the city council.

Judge Denies Defense Motions in Freddie Gray Case

Sep 4, 2015

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams denied defense motions Wednesday to dismiss the charges against the officers involved in the Freddie Gray case and to remove State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her office from the case.

Officers To Be Tried Separately In Freddie Gray Case

Sep 4, 2015

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams ordered Wednesday separate trials for the six officers accused in the death in police custody of Freddie Gray.

Williams said a joint trial would “not be in the interest of justice” and ordered the separate trials.

Batts Breaks His Silence

Sep 4, 2015
Washington Times

We heard this week from former Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony Batts for the first time since Mayor Rawlings-Blake fired him in July. Batts and two others spoke to nearly 600 students at a panel discussion Wednesday evening about justice in America at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg.

We thought you’d be interested in hearing some of the points Anthony Batts made at the college, and to get the view of a someone with a community perspective on Batts' three years heading Baltimore’s police force. City Councilman Brandon Scott, who represents the second district and is vice chair of the council’s public-safety committee, joins Sheilah by phone.

Hearings in the trial of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray begin Wednesday. Mayor Rawlings-Blake said a few days ago that city officials know that an unpopular ruling by the judge could be a flashpoint for protests, and the city is preparing for that possibility. The pre-trial motions will be argued before Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams in two sessions – on Wednesday, and a week from Thursday, Sept. 10. Among the defense motions is one to move the trial out of Baltimore, and some to remove Baltimore State’s Attorney from prosecuting the case. Judge Williams already has ruled on some motions: last week, he rejected a subpoena by the defense lawyers for the prosecutors to take the witness stand at Wednesday’s hearing. Here to catch us up on what’s at stake on Wednesday is David Jaros, a law professor at the University of Baltimore and Doug Colbert, law professor from University of Maryland.

What Did Millions Of Investment Do For West Baltimore's Sandtown

Aug 17, 2015
areseedy //Flickr Creative Commons

Five decades ago, before the riots of 1968, Baltimore’s Sandtown neighborhood was a vibrant community of about 40,000 laborers, professionals and artists. These days less than half that many people live there, and the numbers paint a picture of a community in poor health, with high unemployment, deep poverty, and children not attending school regularly.

Yet, even with these struggles, the fabric of community relationships holds strong. The combination highlights the depth and stubbornness of the social problems in Sandtown.  The week after the riot and protests in April, we were asking the same questions as many residents and outsiders: what can bring stability to this part of West Baltimore? More jobs? Improved housing? Better coordinating leadership among these different groups ?

To talk about the investment in Sandtown, past and present, Elder Clyde Harris of Newborn Community Faith Church joined me in the studio.  He is a native of Sandtown, pastor, a community activist and an urban farmer.  With us on the line from the Washington Post  was  Michael Fletcher has lived in Baltimore for 30 years, and is national economics correspondent for the Post.

Mayor Honors Students For Believing In Baltimore In Song

Jul 31, 2015

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake honored Wednesday students who wrote a song promoting the positive things about a city that has been reeling from the fall out of the death of Freddie Gray from an injury while in police custody in April.

The result was “Believe in Baltimore” composed by students in the Living Classrooms’ Believe in Music program.

7,000 Emails

Jul 29, 2015

Baltimore Sun reporters plummed through a massive amount of emails and other documents among city officials to give a picture of response to the April protests and riot following the death of Freddie Gray. Two of the reporters, Luke Broadwater and Ian Duncan, join Dan Rodricks at noon to discuss their findings.

The All-Nite Images // Flickr Creative Commons

Churches in the black community historically have been a vital institution -- a central force of social change. From Martin Luther King Jr. , to the Reverends Fred Shuttlesworth, Richard Boone and Pauli Murray – myriad church leaders helped birth the modern civil rights movements.

Fast forward to 2015 in Baltimore: On the day of Freddie Gray’s funeral and the night of the unrest, scores of black clergy walked down North Avenue to quell the unrest.  And it raises the question: as the Black Lives Matter movement has grown --a decentralized group of community leaders, activists, authors, journalists and students using digital tools like Twitter--how has the black faith community in Baltimore engaged with this growing group?

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Lawmakers in Maryland charged with exploring potential policing reform measures heard from the public in Annapolis on Thursday. More than a dozen activists from a broad coalition of labor, civil rights and faith groups turned out to call for major changes to make law enforcement more accountable, transparent and community-oriented.

Young People Work To Bring Murals To Sandtown

Jul 20, 2015
Megan Lewis

Eighty young people have gotten summer jobs as "artist apprentices" in Sandtown in West Baltimore. It’s called Art @ Work: Sandtown. It’s an offshoot of Jubilee Arts’ year-round art programs for teens. This particular effort connects young people, aged 14 to 21, with master teaching artists to create seven murals and a mosaic in their community.

With Sheilah Kast to talk about the five-week program and its progress is one of the program’s teaching artists, Megan Lewis. Also with us are two of the artist apprentices: 18-year-old Eric Hendricks III lives in the Monroe neighborhood. He attended Frederick Douglas school. And 14-year-old Talia England. She lives in Sandtown, and graduated from Collington Square Middle school.

Baltimore in Recovery

Jul 15, 2015

We sit down with local businessman and Democratic strategist Michael Cryor, who was appointed to lead Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake’s “One Baltimore” initiative. We'll talk about Baltimore's recovery -- how people are feeling about the city's comeback from the spring -- if there is such a thing.

The unrest after the death of Freddie Gray continues to roil Baltimore. The city’s police union issued a report sharply critical of Commissioner Anthony Batts Wednesday morning. That afternoon, the mayor fired Batts. Now, something different; a free photo exhibit of the unrest has opened at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum downtown. The show's riveting images helped shape our understanding of what was happening in the streets at the time.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts on Wednesday. Commissioner Batts had been under-fire since the April riots and the surge in violent crime that followed. The Mayor named Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis, a veteran of the Prince George's County police department, who most recently served briefly as Police Chief in Anne Arundel County. He joined the Baltimore Police Department in January as a Deputy Commissioner.

Rebuilding community relations will be one of Interim Commissioner Davis’s most important tasks. With Sheilah in the studio to talk about how that can be done is Pastor Heber Brown III of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church. He led protests of police actions in the death of Freddie Gray.

Photo Courtesy of Beau Considine // Flickr Creative Commons

The intense debate around South Carolina’s vote to lower a Confederate banner leads us to think about Maryland’s relationship to symbols of the Civil War.

Bob Cherry, past-president of Baltimore's Fraternal Order of Police, joins Midday to discuss the union's "After Action Review," a report that criticizes former commissioner Anthony Batts for the police department's "passive" response to April's unrest. Plus, Munir Bahar, leader of the anti-violence 300 Men March, talks about the group's third annual march against violence, planned for this Friday.

Change in Command

Jul 9, 2015

Follow-up to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's dismissal of Police Commissioner Anthony Batts with excerpts from Tuesday's interview with the man who will replace Batts, Kevin Davis.

Our guests: State Senator Catherine Pugh; City Councilman Brandon Scott; P. Kenneth Burns of the WYPR reporting staff; and Rev. Donte Hickman.

Radio Talks Race: A Multi-City Roundtable

Jul 9, 2015

WYPR News Director Joel McCord teamed up with WNYC and a public radio station in St. Louis for a multi-city, many-voiced special program on race, community, and policing. What has been revealed in our divided cities over the past year? How can we learn from each other? And how can we make a plan to move forward?