Top cop calls on other agencies "to do their jobs"
The police can't do it alone, but they're often the only agency that people have to turn to when everything else fails. We've had violence on successive weekends outside the Belvedere in Mount Vernon, where the liquor board is trying to shut down a troublesome club, and victims are complaining cops are doing little.
Extra patrols don't seem to be enough, and this week on a radio show the city's top cop lashed out, calling for more help from others. Both he and Mayor Sheila Dixon have in recent days also reminded people that they have a "personal responsibility" to reduce violence and crime, and keep their city looking good.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton reported the following:
Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who has been speaking out about the city’s problem bars and clubs for months, called out the liquor board on a radio appearance Tuesday, the second time in less than a week that he has criticized the board’s efforts.
Bealefeld said on WBAL’s C4 show that “people need to step up and do their jobs,” specifically citing city judges and liquor board inspectors. He said there has been a “smoke screen” of blaming police for violence outside of clubs. Last fall, in response to such claims, Bealefeld barred police from working second jobs outside of bars, and the agency has padlocked a liquor store and a club linked to violence.
The comments followed similar statements made at the police department’s budget hearing last week. At the hearing, Councilman William Cole told Bealefeld that “quite frankly, you guys [police] are doing everything you can up to the door, but what's happening inside is not being enforced by the liquor inspectors.” He asked Bealefeld if there was anything else police could do.
“I think you and I share the same frustration,” Bealefeld said. “I think the accountability of the licensee ought to be much greater in light of our reality … Every single one of you [councilmembers] has this problem in your district with problematic clubs. The city really needs some teeth in its bark.”
“We’ve tried what we can with working around the padlock; we got some people’s attention. But the capacity of the city police department and mayor’s office to do that all over the city is problematic. There are people who get paid to do these things. … We need much, much more – in a hurry – to get this under control.”
Stephan Fogleman, chairman of the liquor board, pushed back when reached for comment Tuesday.
“I am certain that the Commissioner did not mean to imply that the Liquor Board is not doing their job. He is well aware that we are a regulatory agency - not authorized nor trained to serve as law enforcement officers nor do we do have the right to declare bars closed by emergency order. Nor does this board look the other way on violations. We've issued record fines and violations, ordering the suspension or closure of many bars. The Commissioner also is aware that the Board's jurisdiction ends at the bar's front door under Maryland Law.
“Let me also note that there are over 3000 sworn police officers in the City of Baltimore, and there are 15 full time liquor inspectors. We have 1/200th of the manpower of the BPD. Suffice it to say, we can't do our job without their assistance. And as of today, I think the Commissioner and his officers have worked well with the liquor board. We met with the Commissioner about six weeks ago and I think some of his new command is doing a lot to combat problems with bars with our full cooperation.”