BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s tough new scrutiny for the city-authorized towing companies in the wake of last week’s arrests of 17 city police officers accused of taking kickbacks from a towing company that was not authorized to do business with the city.
Derek Valcourt has more on the controversy and what’s being done about it.
The mayor, the police commissioner and some city councilmembers all want to take a closer look at the city’s towing contracts after some people complained those contracts aren’t being awarded fairly and aren’t being monitored.
Special gold medallion stickers are the keys to doing towing business within the city. Right now, only 10 companies under contract with the city get them, authorizing them to tow cars involved in accidents or illegally parked. But that contract is up for renewal and facing tough scrutiny in the wake of last week’s arrests of 17 police officers accused of taking kickbacks from an unauthorized towing company in Rosedale.
Now police commissioner Fred Bealefeld says he wants a full review of the towing contract system after hearing complaints that the medallion companies have had a monopoly on towing in Baltimore for decades.
Several towing company owners like Robert Deshazo complain their applications to become city-authorized medallion towers are denied without explanation.
“I think it should be open for somebody to take a shot at it every year. If I don’t qualify, I don’t qualify, that’s all there is to it, but show me where I don’t,” Deshazo said.
“Clearly one thing we know, the standards that are there, no one’s checking to make sure that they are being met,” said Councilman James Kraft.
Kraft calls for an investigative hearing after learning Aarons—one of the medallion-authorized towing companies—lost its license to do business in Maryland back in 2008, yet it was allowed to tow cars in the city up until last week. In fact, these medallion stickers themselves expired years ago.
It’s also a concern to Councilman Bob Curran, who follows towing issues closely.
“When the internal controls that the medallions have are followed by all the agencies, the police department and the transportation department, then you wouldn’t have these type of issues,” Curran said.
Kraft said a hearing on towing concerns in front of judicial and legislative investigative committee is already set for April 13.
Curran is considering drafting legislation that would add a tax to all non-consensual tows in the city.